Ava DuVernay on Making Venice History as First African American Woman in Competition: Ive Been Told Dont Apply, You Wont Get In
At the Venice Film Festival press conference for Ava DuVernay’s new film “Origin” on Wednesday, the director revealed that she has previously been told not to apply to the festival because “you won’t get in.”
DuVernay is making history this year as the first African American woman in the festival’s 80-year history to have a film compete for the Golden Lion. “Origin,” starring Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor and Jon Bernthal, “chronicles the remarkable life and work of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Isabel Wilkerson as she investigates the genesis of injustice and uncovers a hidden truth that affects us all,” according to the film’s official synopsis.
“For Black filmmakers, we’re told that people who love films in other parts of the world don’t care about our stories and don’t care about our films. This is something that we are often told: you cannot play international film festivals, no one will come,” DuVernay said. “People will not come to the press conferences, people won’t come to the P&I screenings. They will not be interested in selling tickets. You might not even get into this festival, don’t apply. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told, ‘Don’t apply to Venice, you won’t get in. It won’t happen.’ And this year, something happened that hadn’t happened in eight decades before: an African American woman in competition. So now that’s a door open that I trust and hope the festival will keep open.”
“Origin” has its world premiere on Wednesday night. The film also stars Niecy Nash-Betts, Vera Farmiga, Audra McDonald, Nick Offerman, Blair Underwood, Connie Nielsen, Emily Yancy, Jasmine Cephas-Jones, Finn Wittock, Victoria Pedretti, Isha Blaaker and Myles Frost.
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