8 Reasons We Admire Ava DuVernay

  1. She’s a writer, director, producer, independent film distributor, and activist shaped through growing up in a self-described matriarchy.
  2. Three of the four major films she’s directed that we’ve scored have earned 8.5 and over. These include A Wrinkle in Time, Middle of Nowhere, and I Will Follow. The one exception is Selma which focuses on a man’s story and came in just under our usual threshold for recommendation. See it anyway!
  3. Early in her film career (which didn’t begin until she was 32!) she created documentaries because they were less expensive to make and through them she could learn the business. Probably her best known, 13th, documents the prison system in the US and racial inequality.
  4. She created the television show Queen Sugar which scored a rare, perfect 10. DuVernay hires only women directors which is unheard of but demonstrates her commitment to raising up other women.
  5. She’s a trailblazer with a number of “first Black woman director to…” notices to her credit, including:
    Win a Sundance Film Festival award (Middle of Nowhere)
    Be nominated for a Golden Globe and Academy Award for Best Picture (Selma)
    Be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature (13th)
    Helm a live-action movie with a budget over $100 million (A Wrinkle in Time)
    Be in the jury in Cannes
  6. She founded ARRAY, rebranded from AFFRM – the African-American Film Festival Releasing Movement, which is “a community-based distribution collective dedicated to the amplification of films by people of color and women filmmakers.” (avaduvernay.com website)
  7. Working with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and producer Dan Lin, she’s part of the launch of the Evolve Entertainment Fund which promotes inclusion and provides opportunities for under-served communities to pursue careers in the entertainment industry.
  8. This year she was historically in the jury for the Cannes Film Festival (see above) and part of the 82-woman march of filmmakers working towards better treatment of women in the movie business. The 82 is a reference to the number of films directed by women that have been in the main competition lineup as opposed to 1,866 by men.