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Tribeca Film Institute's Inaugural Heineken Affinity Award Goes To Ava DuVernay ($20,000 + Industry Support)

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by Courtney
April 21, 2013 12:07 AM
37 Comments
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This just came in, via press release from the Tribeca Film Institute:

 

HEINEKEN AND THE TRIBECA FILM INSTITUTE ANNOUNCE WINNER OF THE FIRST EVER HEINEKEN AFFINITY AWARD 

One African-American Filmmaker Receives $20,000 Prize And Industry Support for Future Projects

[New York, NY – April 20, 2013] – Today, Heineken USA, the world’s leading international brewer, and the Tribeca Film Institute® (TFI) announced the winner of the inaugural Heineken Affinity Award. The award, given to an African-American filmmaker (age 21 and over) to empower and encourage them to continue to craft stories through film, was awarded to Ava DuVernay.  In addition to a $20,000 cash prize awarded at an event tonight, DuVernay will receive year round support and professional development from TFI for her future projects.

DuVernay, of Los Angeles, won the Best Director Award at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival for her second feature film, Middle of Nowhere.  A writer, director and distributor of independent film, her directorial work also includes the critically-acclaimed dramatic feature I Will Follow, as well as the music documentaries This is the Life and My Mic Sounds Nice.  Her upcoming project Part of the Sky, is currently in development.  She is also the founder of the African-American Film Festival Releasing Movement (AFFRM).  DuVernay was chosen as the winner by public vote on a website dedicated to the Heineken Affinity Award.  Hundreds of thousands of visitors cast their votes from January 15 to March 31, 2013.                                                

“We could not be more pleased to name such a talented and dedicated filmmaker as the winner of the first ever Heineken Affinity Award,” said Pattie Falch, Brand Director, Sponsorships and Events. “Heineken offers exceptional and unique experiences to our consumers and Ava does the same with her creative vision.  We know she will go far with the funding and support we are able to provide along with the Tribeca Film Institute.”

The filmmakers were nominated for the award by a survey of industry executives.  From the list of submissions, Heineken and TFI invited ten finalists to apply for the award based on their prior work and the amount they’ll benefit from extra exposure and resources. Submissions were reviewed on how well they fulfilled the mission of the Tribeca Film Institute, the quality and strength of the proposal, the potential for international and US distribution, as well as the filmmakers’ previous body of work.

In addition to DuVernay, the finalists were Andrew Dosunmu, Cheryl Dunye, Nelson George, Kahlil Joseph, Victoria Mahoney, Terence Nance, Akosua Adoma Owuso, Yvonne Welbon, and Ross Williams. Each of the filmmakers will receive a $1,000 grant.

“Our partnership with Heineken on the Affinity Award allows TFI to broaden our support of working filmmakers from communities that are underrepresented in the film industry,” said Beth Janson, Executive Director, TFI. “We were excited to see such an incredible range of talent and diverse voices in this inaugural group of filmmakers. We look forward to supporting many more artists in the years to come and we thank Heineken for their dedication to the field.”

For more information about the Heineken Affinity Award please visit www.tribecafilminstitute.org, or follow Heineken on Twitter at @Heineken_US.

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37 Comments

  • cRiley | April 23, 2013 12:18 PMReply

    I'm glad for her. A nice woman in person, talented director, community oriented person. It's too bad the 2 or 3 people on this messageboard are making so much noise against. For what? Yea she's popular. She's an indie artist who happens to be popular. Isn't that what we want? She's someone making a platform not just for herself but for others like her. Why is that so bad and causing such vitriol from the 2 or 3 who cluck against it? I would have never heard of Storm Saulter or Andrew if not due to her tweets and Facebooks about them and getting them to my attention. I sure wouldn't have seen their movies if she hadn't had them out in theaters. She's barely out herself but she uses her social media to lift up others all the time. If you follow her, you see her always talking about Terence Nance and others, recommending films and artists and just being a race woman and lifting other artists up. Why is that bad? And although she'd be justified if she put the money in her own pocket like every one else planned to do, she's donating it to AFFRM to put out Neil Drumming's joint. Why is that drawing so much venom? I don't get your arguments. I don't get why you seem mad because something good is happening to someone from this black movie community. Some people have to pull others down to make themselves feel bigger. You even slash people on here trying to make opposing points. Crabs in a barrel.

  • Banta | April 22, 2013 10:06 PMReply

    The haters on here are burying the thousands who voted for her and the thousands more who support AFFRM and her personal films. Yes, it's sad: but expected. As Einstein said, "Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds." Keep going, Ava. Leave these knick knacks in your dust.

    Albert Einstein

  • Laura | April 22, 2013 5:24 PMReply

    Dear @VET, please take your own advice and DO BETTER. If you want to have a positive debate or discourse, I'm cool with that but I'm not down with nasty insults. Believe it or not, you actually underscore my point. If you think Ava's road has been and/or is difficult, where does that leave the other talented directors? If you said S.O.L (shit outta luck) you would be correct. What you have to remember is, at least she's on the radar...especially regarding the indie scene. Mainstream is a WHOLE different game but let's not kid ourselves either...The "average" film goer, black or white, can barely name a few directors outside of Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Spike Lee and whatever the "flavor of the month" is. Also, you stated you're not an "Ava stan," well I AM and I had no problem stating the obvious. For you to take it as an insult is completely ridiculous. I would suggest that you, and anyone else who wants to throw rocks or venom towards me, should apply that same energy in supporting the countless, talented black directors--a good majority covered on this site--who don't have a cheering squad. They're not hard to locate...In case you're interested, they're the blog postings/articles/interviews with very few comments or facebook likes. The black film industry can only get better, and be respected, when MANY are recognized and not just one or two.

    And @CC (Carey Carey)...Are we really using the "Oscars" to measure success? Hell, that club is more exclusive than the so-called Illuminati.

  • ClassicTie | April 23, 2013 10:11 AM

    @SAD, your apology, coonery, bufoonery, and WHERE ARE THOU MASSA? behavior is SAD. Your attempt to denigrate discourse about what's really going on in Black independent cinema is SAD. Your need to be the loudest amongst your ignorant posse is SAD. Your inability to understand opposing arguments is SAD. Your tunnel vision for AFFRM is unsurprisingly SAD. Your aim to divide and subjugate the Black movie viewing audience is SAD. The motivation you have to write such a post is SAD. The idea that you are concerned MORE with non Black people's opinions of AVA and Black viewers is BEYOND SAD. Nonetheless, it is REAL.

  • CC | April 23, 2013 6:30 AM

    To SAD,

    This site has not become a sad thing. What is sad is your apology to people outside of the black community. Why did you feel a need to do that?

    This place is not sad, it's like any other place where people congregate and express their views. Their opinions will differ, but this site is not sad. This site is unique because the moderators/hosts do not barge in, in an attempt to control or infringe on the natural ebb and flow of conversation. They may not agree with everything that transpires in their comment section, however, I believe they're wise enough to know any attempt to mute those they may disagree with, would only defeat the purpose of having open, honest and multidimensional discourse on cinema of the African diaspora.

    This site is not sad, it's a wonderful place where people of color can feel comfortable sharing their opinions without the need to apologize to those who may not understand. Granted, there will be heated debates with one side believing the other is "wrong", but this site is not sad. What is sad and/or wrong are those who have misconstrued Laura's words. Although I may not totally agree with her position, I understood what she was saying. Her voice was not, and is not pitiful -- and this site is not a sad place. The devil is in the details.

  • SAD | April 22, 2013 9:42 PM

    This site has become a sad thing. To people who read this site outside of the black community, please know that the small, pitiful voices of the Laura's and ClassicTie's of the world DO NOT represent most of Black People who love movies. Often times, the ignorant voices are the loudest. To denigrate a woman for donating TWENTY THOUSAND DOLLARS to an organization that helps indie black film is just downright disgusting. Shame on you.

  • ClassicTie | April 22, 2013 8:28 PM

    LAURA - I feel you 100% @VET is trying to avoid the issue and redirect focus. I knew exactly what Laura meant when she said "Seriously, who doesn't know of Ava by now."

    I know she wasn't talking about as @VET underhandedly put "aunties and them." I knew she was talking about the people who would actually know what PAFF, and Urbanworld is. Now @VET .. I'd like to ask, how does winning that Tribeca grant increase her exposure to all the "Aunties and them?" What does it really do for her as a filmmaker besides keep other emerging filmmakers from ascending to the highest level of that "fraction of a fraction of a fraction" of insert namer here_______ industry that she currently is wallowing in?

    I am sure it is extremely difficult for other Black indie directors to gain exposure meanwhile she has used her publicity background and tapped into many outlets doing interviews, panels awards etc. Yet she is still trying to steal the little crumbs from baby bro and sis. Although she may not be in the big-big-big leagues you can't deny that out of all those filmmakers, she is the most armed and ready to compete at the next level.

    Donate the proceeds to AFFRM?... Yes, anything to win! "Auntie and them" don't give two rats about that donation.

  • CC | April 22, 2013 7:27 PM

    ".Are we really using the "Oscars" to measure success? Hell, that club is more exclusive than the so-called Illuminati"

    Well Laura, unfortunately that's the hand we're dealt. And to a large degree, they do get it right. I mean, when I look at those who are selected to grace their stage, I've yet to have a major problem with their selections. Granted, I know this site is devoted to black artists and seldom are we represented on their stage. However, as a movie enthusiast, I'm finding it increasing difficult to champion our present crop of actors. So for me, it's not about the actor's skin color, it is, and always has been about the actor's/director's skill set.

    In reference to VET's comment, I wasn't totally enamored with all his sentiments. I may have read him wrong, but in particular, I didn't like his seemingly negative characterization of The majority of black film ticket buyers... "You know your auntie and them" . Also, after reading that remake in combination with his list of "those film's auntie and them watch", I smelled snob on his breath.

    Anyway, Oscars aside, how do you spell success?

  • Dankwa Brooks | April 22, 2013 1:33 PMReply

    I agree with Taz's post that began with "TAZ | APRIL 21, 2013 11:54 AM
    ".......... ten winners will be selected for the Heineken Affinity Award, a new platform that celebrates emerging and established African-American filmmakers by creating further awareness and dialogue around their work. "

    I have read several articles and books and the "politics of Hollywood" and if you think the major film awards, including the almighty Oscar, are not popularity contests you are sadly mistaken. It even goes to television. Does anybody want to be Matt Lauer right about now?

    In the media you are only good as you are popular or known. Any popularity Ava may have had she had to get nominated in the first place.

    Lastly I agree with~>DONNA | APRIL 21, 2013 8:13 AM
    Tyler Perry, Spike Lee, and now Ava DuVernay. 3 names that always seem to spark some kind of debate on this site. Y'all crack me up with your comments. Congratulations Ava, you've officially made it Lol!

  • anderson | April 22, 2013 1:10 PMReply

    I voted for Ms. DuVernay!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • al | April 22, 2013 7:23 AMReply

    Whether Ms.Duvernay needs the money or not, what's seems lost in this is the analysis of her work. Aside from popularity does her work speak for itself? Based on her track record the answer seems to be yes. I agree with some of the arguments made but at the end of the day it's about the quality of work. It's not she like has no talent and won the award because she's connected. She is talented as are the other contestants.

  • ALM | April 21, 2013 10:35 PMReply

    Yay, yay, yay for Ms. Duvernay!

  • Allie | April 21, 2013 8:09 PMReply

    Congrats Ava! You're so deserving of this and so much more! Cheers!

  • Laura | April 21, 2013 7:36 PMReply

    Hey @TAZ, you missed this part..."The winners will use our website as a platform to promote their films, AND WITH THE PUBLIC'S HELP one out of the ten will receive a $20,000 cash award."

    This contest was definitely partly based on popularity and that's not about "hating" or being "shady." I don't see it as a good or bad thing, it just is. I did feel sorry for some of the other contestants because they don't have a following or get the publicity yet. By the way, I am a big Affrm and Ava supporter but it's time some other folks get some shine. Seriously, who doesn't know of Ava by now? It's funny how soooo many folks love to vilify the "Hollywood mainstream" film system regarding the cliques and opportunities, yet those very folks are exhibiting the same behavior they detest.

  • CC | April 22, 2013 4:28 PM

    !!!@#@!!#>#)**^#:-(@#@#*@#... INCOMING!!! ... #*@#>)*#@:-(@#><!

    After the first thunderous blast, the crowd scrambles to gain their composure, but another bomb shell explodes at their feet.

    " For all the hype on film sites and awards bloggers, white voters for Oscars ain't never heard of her or Middle of Nowhere. Be serious. They barely are aware of Tyler Perry and only because he is super sized paid and makes the business pages."

    A silent hush has fallen over the normally boisterous S&A Crowd. It's as if they've been cut off at the knees. It's difficult for them to believe and accept that white folks could care less about them. There is no way... their world is coming to an end, it's hard for them to fathom "that what you people care about here and see on your Facebook pages is a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of the Black Hollywood machine and a minuscule percentage of a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of fraction of Big White Hollywood"

    Damn, I wonder if this new revelation has anything to do with the Idris Elba, and that one guy debate? I mean, this whole bomb shell could explain why Idris Elba and Anthony Mackie could not be picked out of the FBI's 10 most wanted list. DAMN... who would have thunk it?

  • Bondgirl | April 22, 2013 3:57 PM

    Thank you @VET for reading Laura for filth!! You managed to state all my feelings , and then some. It is truly a microscopic look into the pathology of the black community when the 2 loudest dissenting voices of this thread are black women, and not some Tea Party troll. I guess if Ava receives an Oscar, she better really watch her back!

  • VET | April 22, 2013 2:47 PM

    The problem with this comment is people on this site think the world revolves around what's on this site. To the statement: " Seriously, who doesnt of Ava by now" -- I answer with a laugh because I actually think you mean what you wrote here. This woman is barely on the rise and you already want to knock her down and say she's had enough? You really think "Seriously, who doesn't know of Ava by now?" The majority of black film ticket buyers don't know, those who consume Think Like A Man, Tyler Perry crap, Jumping the Broom, Cedric the Entertainer movies, Kevin Hart movies, etc etc have no idea about independent directors like Ava or Dee Rees or Ryan Coogler or Barry Jenkins etc etc etc. They have no idea about these people that you seem to think everyone knows about. They have Zero knowledge or care about Sundance, TriBeCa, Indiewire etc etc. They don't go to Urbanworld or know what the hell PAFF is. They hear about movies from Tom Joyner and BET. You know your auntie and them. They don't know her. And there are more aunties and them than there are people on this site. So how you make a statement like the one you made is laughable. Second, if the majority of blacks don't know, you KNOW the whites don't know. For all the hype on film sites and awards bloggers, white voters for Oscars ain't never heard of her or Middle of Nowhere. Be serious. They barely are aware of Tyler Perry and only because he is super sized paid and makes the business pages. So why would you even waste time suggesting a clique exists when whatever cliqiue you're talking about has no reach, no consequence, no power and the majority of the filmgoing world doesn't know about it. You sound delusional. Read some Franz Fanon or something. nderstand power structures and dynamic reach before you start talking out the side of your mouth. Understand that what you people care about here and see on your Facebook pages is a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of the Black Hollywood machine and a miniscule percentage of a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of fraction of Big White Hollywood. I am not an Ava stan. I think she's talented as I do many other new black directors, many of which were in the running for the award. I responded because I am sick of nonsense and noise, both of which is what you brought here for no damn good reason. Just writing to read yourself write. Do better.

  • TAZ | April 21, 2013 11:51 PM

    Laura, since you went to the website you know I did not miss it. I had one very big point and for whatever reason, you missed it.

  • LeonRaymond | April 21, 2013 10:58 PM

    It's funny how soooo many folks love to vilify the "Hollywood mainstream" film system regarding the cliques and opportunities, yet those very folks are exhibiting the same behavior they detest. - Whoa Ho, LAURA I agree with you right there and that statement is the exact thrust of my entire argument for ever on S&A Now I can lay low !

  • ALM | April 21, 2013 10:36 PM

    A TON of people don't know about Ava. I am always telling my family members about her movies, and none of them have seen her movies, because they live in smaller towns where Ava's films are not screened.

  • RB | April 21, 2013 4:13 PMReply

    Yeah Ava! Congrats to her, AFFRM, and her journey as a filmmaker. So glad she won! Cheers!

  • TAZ | April 21, 2013 11:54 AMReply

    ".......... ten winners will be selected for the Heineken Affinity Award, a new platform that celebrates emerging and established African-American filmmakers by creating further awareness and dialogue around their work.

    Heineken and TFI will survey a wide range of industry executives to nominate an African-American filmmaker who exhibits great creative potential and will benefit from extra exposure and resources for their next creative project. Based on the nominations, we'll invite filmmakers over the age of 21 to apply for the award.

    Submissions will be judged on how well it fulfills the mission of TFI, the quality and strength of the proposal, the potential for international and US distribution, as well as the filmmakers’ previous body of work."

    Congrats to all who were selected to apply - as this denotes their work has been recognized - and those who received awards of any kind. We celebrate your success and celebrate what is to come!

    Anything beyond doing this is shading at best, hating at worst. Any argument that any entrant should have lost because of a, b, c or d has issues.

    That's my half penny worth to this convo.

  • LeonRaymond | April 21, 2013 11:08 AMReply

    @NADIA and @LAURA Tough one to say this was done without some form of bias, Ava did the tour, she took her film all around and was immersed in the LA SCENE deeply, she was well known much more than the other filmmakers and was popular among the taste makers in Hollywood. That’s what she was supposed to do. She is a filmmaker in the new landscape. She is also building a huge apparatus (AFFRM) which is unprecedented. We all need distribution and film project shepherding so don’t think that was not lost on those who vote. I know a lot of the other filmmakers could also have used the money and publicity. I would have been only happy if a woman got the award and money though. But I would have liked to have seen the gentleman who did Gun Hill Road get in the final voting also. Ava is very articulate so all those check marks in the plus column helps. If it is true that this was popularity contests then I hope Ava takes that money and picks up a few more films to distribute and helps develop some unknown filmmakers. What I truly would like also is to see Ava do bigger budget with a lot more moving set pieces and some small action scenes so she won’t be put in the category of doing only films that are MUMBLE CORE!- check out this article I think it fits what Ava has done with her films and what we all must do http://www.indiewire.com/article/why-filmmakers-need-to-act-more-like-rock-stars

  • Langston | April 21, 2013 10:33 AMReply

    Congrats to Ava and AFFRM! She is such a remarkable artist and visionary. Her win was well deserved.

  • Donna | April 21, 2013 8:13 AMReply

    Tyler Perry, Spike Lee, and now Ava DuVernay. 3 names that always seem to spark some kind of debate on this site. Y'all crack me up with your comments. Congratulations Ava, you've officially made it Lol!

  • CC | April 21, 2013 8:30 AM

    Cackle until it cracks you up but debate and controversy are a good thang. They're the lifeblood of moving forward.

  • ScriptTease | April 21, 2013 3:16 AMReply

    Ava is way too talented for films not to be shown nation wide. Congratulations to her.

  • ALM | April 21, 2013 10:38 PM

    Yes. I wish she could secure wider distribution of her films. I am always raving about her films to my family members, and they never have the opportunity to support Ava for themselves.

  • beemooree | April 21, 2013 1:07 AMReply

    well said Damone. Ava is constantly distributing films for us and by us. and FYI to Nadia, The race was close, Ava, Victoria, and someone else was in the running. Ava didn't lead the whole time

  • Nadia | April 21, 2013 12:35 AMReply

    It's a popularity contest. She's a lot more popular than the other directors who were up for the award and so of course she was able to get more people to vote for her. One of the lesser known filmmakers should have won it because they really could use the shine much more than she needs it because she's already well known and on her way. Not hating, just saying. Give someone else a leg up.

  • CC | April 21, 2013 5:37 PM

    Okay T... I think it's time I defer my rebuttal to the superior comment of TAZ's ^above^

  • T | April 21, 2013 12:04 PM

    Ok CC... let me break it down and add some more. The other filmmakers were in the running to win the prize money for their films. Ava decided to donate it to AFFRM. I wonder what the outcome would have been if each filmmaker was competing to get funds for THEIR upcoming films only...

    IMO, this was a strategic move for Ava to win and help keep herself on the radar. (Not really necessary but it's a very clever marketing move.) People need to realize that this is business and she is taking care of it the best way she knows how. This industry is definitely about popularity and she has the connects and platform to stay in focus.

    The goal of AFFRM is to distribute Black films. Is it not? So how is a distribution company devoted to distributing Black films giving filmmakers who make Black films a leg up? Aren't they just doing their jobs?

    @DAMON, "I'm almost certain we ALL will benefit from Ava winning the money and support." Tell that to the other filmmakers. It's this type of empty thinking... Congrats Ava!

  • CC | April 21, 2013 7:51 AM

    After "listening" to all the arguments is this debate (who would be, or who is the most deserving) I believe it's a very tough call.

    First, I considered the goal/mission of the award:

    "Submissions were reviewed on how well they fulfilled the mission of the Tribeca Film Institute [...] Our partnership with Heineken on the Affinity Award allows TFI to broaden our support of working filmmakers from communities that are underrepresented in the film industry"

    Now, Nadia said "One of the lesser known filmmakers should have won it because they really could use the shine much more than she needs it"

    I have to ask, is this award focused on giving an individual more shine or giving an underrepresented community more shine? If the latter is true, Eva's victory makes the most sense. I am leaning in that direction based on Damone's comment "we ALL will benefit from Ava winning the money and support". That's true, since she is arguably the most popular filmmaker in the group of finalist, and thus her "voice" rings the loudest, the underrepresented community's voice will gain a much needed exposure.

    On the other hand, if this award is focused on which individual "needs" the most "help"? I believe it's safe to say Ava Duvernay might not be the most needy. So I guess it really comes down to the opinions of the hundreds of thousands of visitors who actually cast their votes (why did they vote for whomever?). And it's interesting to note BEEMOOREE did say (although I don't know how she knows this) "The race was close, Ava, Victoria, and someone else was in the running. Ava didn't lead the whole time."

  • Nadia | April 21, 2013 1:55 AM

    @Damone I'm very familiar with Ava and AFFRM, so don't assume. I read this blog too. I follow her and AFFRM on twitter. I know she said she would give the winnings to AFFRM. But you need to understand that it's more than just about the money. It's about the press and the awareness the winner receives which I feel the other filmmakers could really use more than Ava who is very well known by now. And also don't forget that the other part of the prize is "Industry Support for Future Projects" which I feel another filmmaker could really benefit from more than Ava who's already deep in the industry. The $20,000 going to AFFRM is a good thing, but it would be better if it went to one of the other filmmakers to use to get their next films made. I'm a supporter and fan of Ava and AFFRM. You can check comments I've made on this site before when they've come up in posts that show that. I'm just saying that I feel Ava is doing well right now which she deserves, so I'm not even saying she hasn't earned it. But she and AFFRM are going to be fine whether they win this award or not. Some of the other filmmakers need it more.

  • Laura | April 21, 2013 1:37 AM

    Although I get where you're coming from @Damone, I have to agree with @Nadia on this.

  • Damone | April 21, 2013 12:59 AM

    I hear you, Nadia. But I'd suggest you familiarize yourself a little bit more with Ava, and with AFFRM. They are CONSTANTLY giving folks a "leg up." And Ava made it clear that the award money is going to AFFRM to CONTINUE to create films for and about us, BY US!

    Sure it was a "popularity contest," but what really isn't in entertainment? Ava is ALWAYS helping other filmmakers and artists out. She is friends with some of the folks who were in competition with her for this award. I'm almost certain we ALL will benefit from Ava winning the money and support.

    Congrats Ava! Congrats AFFRM!! Congrats to all the other brilliant filmmakers in the contest!
    :-)

  • Allison | April 21, 2013 12:23 AMReply

    Watching someone live their dreams and get the acknowledgement for it is so satisfying. Very excited to see what's next from Ms. DuVernay!

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