Ava DuVernay becomes first African-American woman to present a movie in competition at Venice Film Festival

Francis Akhalbey September 12, 2023
Ava DuVernay became the first African American woman to present a movie in competition at the Venice Film Festival -- Photo Credit: Peabody Awards

Filmmaker Ava DuVernay wrote her name in the history books on Wednesday after she became the first African-American woman to premiere a movie in competition at the Venice Film Festival. Per Reuters, the 51-year-old presented her Origin movie after overcoming doubters who attempted to encourage her to not apply.

“As Black film makers we are told people who love films in other parts of the world do not care about our stories,” the award-winning director told reporters before the screening.

“I can’t tell you how many times I have been told: ‘Don’t apply for Venice, you won’t get in’. And this year it happened. Thank you. Something happened that hadn’t happened in eight decades before, an African American women in competition.”

The Origin movie depicts how Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Isabel Wilkerson authored her “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents” book. The movie also looks into the 2020 best-selling book’s subjects of race and deep-rooted discrimination, per Reuters.

DuVernay initially started working on the Origin movie as a studio project. She, however, made it an independent project, affording her more freedom artistically. The 51-year-old also said organizing such a cast for the movie wouldn’t have been possible if a studio was overseeing the project.

“There is an aspect of control (in the studios) over who plays what and there is an idea about who makes money, who attracts attention and sometimes that sits at odds with who might be the best person,” said DuVernay. “This cast … is populated with blood, sweat and tears working actors … together you see how they shine like stars.”

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: September 12, 2023

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