Ava DuVernay’s handle on her IG account is Directher, simply, powerfully and concisely telling you who she is by transforming a term that is dominated by white male directors to tell the story of a black female film director. And in so many ways Ava has directed not only her own films but also the trajectory of her life through her passion as well as directing our attention to her phenomenal talent.
I first learned about Ava DuVernay through a good friend of hers who is also a dear friend of mine. CeCelia Falls who shares my deep and sometimes fanatic love of film invited me to the AFFRM (African Film Festival Releasing Movement) film festival for the first time in 2010 to see the debut of Ava’s film “I Will Follow.” I loved everything about it, the story, her direction, lighting, editing, score choice, the fact that it was an all black and predominantly female cast. I even wrote a review of it back when I had a film review blog on blogger.com. I wanted to promote the film as much as possible and put the full weight of my own support as a writer and movie goer behind it.
Since then she has gone on to direct and produce films, such as “Middle of Nowhere,” “Say Yes” an episode of “Scandal,” the fashion film “The Door” and her latest “Selma” an epic biopic about Martin Luther King Jr. and the formidable pioneers who were integral to his fight to represent and gain civil rights in the early post integration era of the South. I actually just saw the film myself last weekend and am certain I will never watch another Oscars ever again until they nominate at least three black black films in the same year. Fact.
Ava’s mastery of visual language, story-line, pacing and richness of character exhibit a breadth of experience that paints the experiences of women of color with broad, nuanced strokes that depict our depth and complexities with pride, reverence, honesty and care.