Independent filmmaker, distributor Ava DuVernay to screen films, speak at Indiana University

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Independent filmmaker Ava DuVernay will visit Indiana University's Bloomington campus this month, where she'll screen seven films and deliver a Jorgensen Guest Filmmaker Lecture.

A writer, producer, director and editor who received the best director award at the Sundance Film Festival in 2012, DuVernay is also widely known in independent film circles as a maverick businesswoman for the 2011 launch of her film distribution venture, the African American Film Festival Releasing Movement. The organization, known as AFFRM, uses a network of African-American and African diasporic film festivals to achieve wider theatrical distribution for independent films on its roster than otherwise available through dominant distribution channels.

"By challenging the terms of participation for black filmmakers in American cinema, AFFRM is, as DuVernay has said, not so much a business as a call to action," IU Cinema Director Jon Vickers said. "We are excited to welcome this trailblazer of independent film to IU. DuVernay has had an unprecedented year since her 2012 Sundance recognition, receiving the 2013 John Cassavetes Award at the Independent Spirits and being named a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences."

DuVernay will speak at 3 p.m. Sept. 20 at IU Cinema. The lecture is free and open to the public, and no tickets are required.

"Entrepreneur, producer, director and distributor extraordinaire—Ava DuVernay is a show unto herself," said Michael T. Martin, director of IU's Black Film Center/Archive, or BFC/A, which led DuVernay's visit. "Her artistic accomplishments and business acumen have invigorated the black independent cinema movement. We are thrilled to welcome her to campus in September."

Five of DuVernay's films and two AFFRM titles will screen at IU Cinema and the BFC/A, in Wells Library Room 044:

  • 7 p.m. Sept. 11, BFC/A, "My Mic Sounds Nice: A Truth About Women and Hip-Hop"—DuVernay's film explores the demise of the female MC in today's music.
  • 3 p.m. Sept. 15, IU Cinema, "Better Mus' Come"—The film DuVernay selected to launch AFFRM's ARRAY label, a love story set against the 1978 Green Bay Massacre.
  • 6:30 p.m. Sept. 15, IU Cinema, "This Is the Life"—DuVernay's award-winning directorial debut documents the progressive hip-hop scene in 1990s Los Angeles.
  • 7 p.m. Sept. 18, BFC/A, "Big Words"—In current release through ARRAY, Neil Drumming's film visits three former members of a hip-hop crew who cross paths on the eve of Obama's 2008 election.
  • 7 p.m. Sept. 19, IU Cinema, "Venus vs."—This documentary traces Venus Williams' courageous call for financial parity for female professional tennis players.
  • 6:30 p.m. Sept. 20, IU Cinema, "Middle of Nowhere"—This film tackles the wide-ranging impact of the prison industrial complex in black communities.
  • 9:30 p.m. Sept. 20, IU Cinema, "I Will Follow"—A contemplative drama that follows a day in the life of Maye as she packs up the family home after her aunt's death.

Tickets are not required for the screenings at the BFC/A. All screenings at the IU Cinema are free but ticketed. Tickets can be obtained at the IU Auditorium Box Office from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday; one hour before any screening at the cinema; or by phone at 812-855-1103 for a $10 service fee per order.

DuVernay is scheduled to attend the screenings of "Venus vs.," "Middle of Nowhere" and "I Will Follow."

The series is sponsored by the Black Film Center/Archive, Department of African American and African Diaspora Studies, Department of American Studies, Department of Communication and Culture and the Film and Media Studies program.

Grant support for the film series came from the IU Women's Philanthropy Council, while the Jorgensen Guest Filmmaker Lecture Series is made possible through the support of the Ove W Jorgensen Foundation.