Filmmaker Launches Distribution Org To Promote African-American Film

March 11, 2011  |  

By B. Hutson

The dialogue is never-ending about the lack of African Americans in Hollywood, but Ava DuVernay is proud to say that she has not needed the backing of Hollywood to achieve what she has done thus far, and that’s independently shooting, producing and distributing her own films.  She made her feature directorial debut with the documentary, This Is the Life, in 2008, and directed two network music documentaries: “My Mic Sounds Nice” for BET Networks and the 2010 Essence Music Festival that aired on TV One.

Today, DuVernay’s first feature film, I Will Follow, will debut in AMC theaters in the following cities: New York, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Seattle and Los Angeles.  The film stars Salli Richardson-Whitfield and Omari Hardwick, and explores how a family tragedy impacts its members and how they overcome it. DuVernay made the film in 15 days with her own money, keeping costs under $50,000 by filming in one location.

Besides the film, DuVernay is leading the movement to spread the distribution of black-themed films with her new organization, African-American Film Festival Releasing Movement, a distribution organization that strives to release two independent African-American films per year. She says that with the gaping hole in Hollywood in regards to diverse films for diverse audiences, this is a perfect time for independent filmmakers such as herself to embrace the open space and capitalize on it.

“For folks that are forward-thinking and are using their imaginations and their hearts instead of thinking about the bottom line, we can create new models of distribution, new ways to make our films, new ways to tell our stories, share our stories. So it’s a good time,” she told NPR’s Michel Martin.

Read more of DuVernay’s interview with NPR here.

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