When you choose a career in filmmaking, you really don't know what it means when veterans in the industry tell you "it's a grind". There so many unique stories of filmmakers describing their journey of eventually coming to make feature films (or projects) for wide audiences. These stories are great to hear, because it gives reference into the challenges of not only creating a project, but also the producing hurdles, the aspect and need for gaining interest from your peers, and then once you go through the grueling process of actually making the film, finding avenues to get it distributed. As fellow filmmakers, its inspiring to look at the individuals who undergo these challenges, you may not know the filmmakers at first, but once you see their craft one can't help but take notice. And with that, I introduce a filmmaker who I have an immense amount of respect for, the talented Ava Duvernay.
Ms. Duvernay is an African-American filmmaker who I admire not only for her intellect and skill in directing, but also her writing ability. Her efforts on a social basis and industry practices involve advocating for more opportunities for women and minority filmmakers alike, and her films reflect the struggles of African-Americans in a sensitive but heart-provoking fashion. This piece from "Makers: the largest video collection of women's stories" (www.makers.com), which features filmmakers who are making groundbreaking achievements in directing gives great insight into Duvernay's "grind" in the industry. Checkout Story Here
Ava's filmography showcases her practice of choosing themes that give insight into the struggles of minority characters, and this is something that she has started from the beginning. Yes, you may know her only for her critically-acclaimed Selma, which was nominated for a Best Picture Academy Award, but it seems every project contained similar thematic traits.
I Will Follow (2010), is a film about a day in the life of a grieving women, who has 12 visitors that help her cope in many ways. It was Ava's first narrative feature and co-stars actor Omari Hardwick who is now the star of the popular show Power.
Second, Ava followed with Middle of Nowhere (2012), again writing and directing this feature which told the story of Ruby, a black woman medical school drop out, who chose to do so to best manage her husbands 8 year prison sentence, and in doing so undergoes the process of finding herself. This film gained critical acclaim, and eventually led to Ava Duvernay being recognized and awarded the Best Selection at Sundance, which was the first time a black woman received that award.
And of course, Selma (2014), a film about Martin Luther King Jr. and his campaign to secure equal voting rights via an epic march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in 1965. This is a story we have talked about before in our BlogV, but why not show it again!
For her next projects, Ms. Duvernay is in pre-production for the adaptation of the popular novel A Wrinkle in Time. I'm very interested to see how this film turns out, since it is a bit of a deviation from her previous work. Regardless, this talented woman is worth showcasing, thank you Ms. Ava Duvernay!