Ava DuVernay Kicks Off Membership Drive To Help Female Filmmakers Of Color

May 6, 2015  |  

Ava DuVernay, the mastermind behind Selma, is kicking off the African-American Film Festival Releasing Movement (AFFRM), a membership drive that aims to assist Black and brown female directors in an industry where filmmakers of color are marginalized, The Wrap reports.

DuVernay, the first African-American female director to be nominated for a Golden Globe (Middle of Nowhere) and Oscar (Selma), is paving the way for other filmmakers of color to follow in her footsteps. In launching AFFRM’s second annual membership drive, more Black and brown women have the chance to heighten the visibility of their work.

“It’s important that we support filmmakers who are being excluded from the traditional ways of distributing their films,” DuVernay told TheWrap.

DuVernay said that she’s financed AFFRM for the last four years, out of pocket, with her directing money. But last year, she began asking for a little help.

“We started to say, ‘Hey, does anyone want to donate to this effort?’ And we had a donor drive that we call a ‘rebel drive’…  and we had some 750 people who gave,” DuVernay said.

The news comes as a new study reveals that 70.2 percent of female-directed films that premiered at the Sundance film festival between 2002 and 2014 were picked up by independent firms. On the flip side, major studios picked up 43.1 percent of male-directed films, the Guardian reports. (DuVernay is also the first Black director to win the Best Director Prize at Sundance, in 2012 for Middle of Nowhere.)

Indie firms typically have less clout in the movie industry and smaller budgets, so with major studios giving female-created material the cold shoulder, it’s no wonder why up-and-coming female directors seem to struggle in Hollywood.

The aforementioned study, commissioned by the Female Film-makers Institute, discovered six obstacles — or hindering stereotypes — that prevented women from moving up the ranks.

“…Executives [assume that] films made by women were less appealing to audiences; that there were fewer female directors to choose from; and that women were generally less interested in directing and showed little passion for more commercial, big-budget action fare,” the Guardian added.

The study shot down some of these assumptions and found that 43.9 percent of women would want to take on a big-budget, blockbuster film.

“These assumptions about what a woman is capable of and aspires to are shutting doors before there’s even a conversation about the potential of a transaction.” Women in Film president Cathy Schulman told The Hollywood Reporter.

With only 23 percent of women directing last year’s Hollywood productions, DuVernay’s AFFRM is just what the industry needs to support more female directors of color. For details, click here.

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