Ava DuVernay made history at the Venice Film Festival, becoming the first black US director in the event’s 80-year history to have a film in the main competition.
DuVernay addressed this milestone directly at the Italian press conference Originwhich has its world premiere on Wednesday night, explains that black American filmmakers are being led to believe that international film festivals are simply not places for their work.
“Black filmmakers are 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,” she said. “We are often told this: you cannot appear at international film festivals, nobody will come, people will not come to your press conference, people will not come to the P&I screenings, they will not be interested in selling tickets, You may not even attend this festival, so don’t apply. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told not to apply to Venice, you won’t get in. That will not happen. And this year it happened.”
That’s what she said when Venice elected the first African American woman in eight decades Origin have “opened the door and I trust and hope that the festival will keep it open.”
When asked by a journalist in Venice about the details of manufacture OriginDuVernay said she appreciates the question because “as a black filmmaker, I’m often asked questions about race, or being a woman, or being anything other than the role of filmmaking.”
Origin is inspired by the remarkable life and work of Pulitzer Prize winner Isabel Wilkerson – played by Oscar nominee Aunjanue Ellis (King Richard) – as she writes her landmark book, Caste: The source of our dissatisfaction. As she grapples with a massive personal tragedy, Wilkerson embarks on a journey of global exploration and discovery. Despite the colossal scope of her project, she finds beauty and courage while penning one of the most defining American non-fiction books of recent years.
DuVernay told Wilkerson that the author “informed me that the seed of the idea for the book began with the assassination of Trayvon Martin.” This informed her decision on how to book the film.
She added: “I’m very saddened by the killing of Trayvon Martin, so that became a common point – that I’m so emotionally connected to his death. It was my choice and my honor to open the film on his face and close the film on his face.”
The film stars Jon Bernthal, Niecy Nash-Betts, Vera Farmiga, Audra McDonald, Nick Offerman, Blair Underwood, Finn Wittrock, Jasmine Cephas-Jones and Connie Nielsen.
Paul Garnes and DuVernay produced Origin under their Array Filmworks banner. In addition to DuVernay and Garnes, the artist team is behind it Origin is directed by cinematographer Matthew J. Lloyd, ASC, production designer Ina Mayhew, editor Spencer Averick ACE, composer Kris Bowers, costume designer Dominique Dawson and casting director Aisha Coley.
The film was acquired by Neon for worldwide distribution the day before its Venice premiere, after what has been described as a “competitive” negotiation process.