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Guest Post: Ava DuVernay "What Color is Indie?”

by Ted Hope
May 4, 2011 3:00 AM
31 Comments
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Back in January I heard of Ava DuVernay for the first time when the NYTimes ran a story on her new distro initiative. I thought "wow, there's a good idea, that can be replicated in many forms." It lifted my spirits, but then the assault of super-abundance of everything pulled my attention elsewhere. Recently, my attention got pulled back when a Twitter conversation turned it to the overtly white male dominance of the "indie scene". Fortunately, I was put in touch with Ava, and she guest posts today with some of experiences in DIWO distribution.

My name is Ava DuVernay and I just completed a 7-week theatrical release of my film I WILL FOLLOW in 20 major US cities, including NY and LA, without studio or corporate backing and no formal P&A. The release was accomplished through AFFRM, a black film distribution collective that I founded. Have you heard of us?


I may incorrectly assume that most of Ted's readers have never heard of AFFRM, or I WILL FOLLOW, or the excellent black film orgs that make up the African-American Film Festival Releasing Movement -- for which AFFRM stands.

Why do I think that? Because we haven’t cracked that American indie establishment circle. You know, the Tribeca-Indiewire-IFP-FilmIndependent-SXSW-Lincoln Center of it all. The gate-keepers to the mainstream indie treasures. We haven’t had their attention. So we might’ve slipped by you.

It’s weird. Some new group pulls off an $11,235 per screen full-run simultaneously in multiple cities with absolutely no formal P&A, no four-walling, no touring, no service deal on their first try, and enterprising filmmakers and film pros don’t want the skinny on how? Maybe you just hadn’t heard. We’ve had full features in NY Times, LA Times, CNN, NPR and USA Today, but not one inquiry from the many DIY, DIWO, new distribution panel programmers or experts? The circle is tight.

With AFFRM, we sought to take the DIWO approach a step further, to give it infrastructure and branding. To align like-minded regional black film organizations and push them to go beyond their existing mission, to a renewed vision with national reach. It worked. Like, really worked. And we’re anxious to share what we learned, and to learn from others. But if you only get your news, views and film picks from the circle, you don’t know about us – and others like us.

My point is… you’re missing stuff. Many lovely films, many talented filmmakers and maybe a new idea to add to the discussion on how to move film distribution forward without corporate permission. I’ve been astonished by how many black filmmakers and film pros have approached us in the last few weeks about how we did what we did. Several dozen. And further astonished by how many of my non-black counterparts have approached. Zero.

Makes me think, what color is indie? I mean, what does it take to be of color and truly considered authentic American indie? To have done something seen as meaningful to the circle of the American independent film establishment, both artistically and as a business model. Like, if I don’t participate in what a good pal calls “white people festivals”… am I indie enough? Do you take my film as seriously because I chose to world premiere at Urbanworld in NY instead of submitting to Tribeca? If I don’t run my film through the labs or diversity initiatives of a recognized institution… do I not have that cool indie cred you need to see my movie with its beautiful black cast? I wonder.

I understand wanting your indie film product of color vetted through the proper channels. I get it. But just be aware that that is what you’re doing. Be aware that your indie is handpicked by a select few. And be clear that your indie is very white boy in view. Not a bad thing. White boys like all kinds of cool stuff – other white boys, white girls and the occasional thing of color that speaks to their sensibilities as white boys. But be real, that’s limited.

It limits you from hearing new marketing and distribution ideas, meeting filmmakers and experiencing films outside of this establishment construct, outside of the circle. You’re missing some good new stuff and ignoring success stories from many folks of color (See: I Will Follow or Mooz-Lum) or are by folks who are just downright colorful (See: Audrey Ewell’s Until The Light Takes Us and Bob Ray’s Total Badass). It’s not progressive. And it isn’t what I feel most people who love, support and live indie film really want. I don’t think its purposeful hateration. I think its just this lull of curation and prestige and, to be quite honest, laziness. Whatever it is… its affecting the whole business. And its far from positive.

If these statements makes you proclaim that I’m trippin’ and “there IS no circle”– then I’m happy that I’m not talking to you. Really am. Thrilled, in fact. And I invite you to see my film about a grieving black woman shot in Topanga Canyon that Roger Ebert called “one of the best films he’s seen about the death of a loved one.” You’re just my kind of audience member.

If on the other hand, these statements coax you to admit that you haven’t gone to a non-establishment fest or seen a film not featured in Filmmaker Magazine in years, then I invite you to step outside and take a look. Be like a couple of folks at Sundance Institute who’ve reached out to us to share and compare notes. Or the folks that head up RiverRun where I was invited to sit on the jury a few weeks back. Those RiverRun people take their mission of inclusion seriously, working to connect with the black community in Winston-Salem by leaping out of theoretical planning meetings and into bold action. They presented a special festival panel at the local historically black college this year, on which I was pleased to participate. I wondered if it was the first foray of a non-ethnic film festival at an HBCU? First I’m aware of. It was super impressive. And its what we all need to be thinking about.

Bottom line: It would benefit us all to be conversing and connecting. It’s not too late to break the boundaries of what you think this thing called indie should be, should look like. For instance, I dig that Indiewire, after years of really poor connection with black independent cinema at large, has wooed the wonderful team at ShadowandAct.com to be part of its blog network. It’s a step in the right direction for iW amidst an ongoing, challenging lack of coverage of black fests and black and brown indies on the main site.

This post is not meant to be a ball buster but a spirited call-to-action. There are new ideas, new paths for distribution, new films and filmmakers you're missing if you only look from inside. There are riches in the niches. Both monetary and cosmic. Heck, you love indie film! You care about its future! So why not step outside and look around? Its nice out.

Here’s the opening weekend video of the thousands and thousands and thousands of people who came out to AFFRM’s inaugural release for I WILL FOLLOW in March. Quite a spectacle that you may not have seen or heard about. But now… you know.

Thanks for the invite, Ted.

-- Ava DuVernay

VIDEO: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GOiuV6uYvas

Ava DuVernay is a filmmaker and film distributor from Los Angeles, California.  Her Twitter is @AVADVA. More on AFFRM at www.affrm.com. More on I WILL FOLLOW at www.iwillfollowfilm.com.

31 Comments

  • elliemurray | April 12, 2014 9:13 AMReply

    It was a privileged following this post. I have seen a great journey.

  • J.D. Willis | May 13, 2011 8:33 AMReply

    Ava DuVernay doesn't breakdown her theatrical audience by race, but the dominance of the independent establishment of films by privileged white filmmakers, even when their subject is "minorities" and the poor, shouldn't be all surprising, given the composition of the audience for off-Hollywood film, which is overwhelmingly white, privileged and aging.

    Retrospectives devoted to African-American, Latin American and Asian filmmakers would play to empty houses, even in museum and cultural venues with their own theaters, membership lists and publicists, if they had to depend on support from their respective communities.

    Until these audiences are cultivated, and somehow persuaded to turn away from corporately manufactured culture, nothing much is going to change.

  • Karin Chien | May 11, 2011 6:00 AMReply

    Thank you Ava for saying what so often goes unsaid. And thank you for speaking out loud the question that runs in my head: "I mean, what does it take to be of color and ... to have done something seen as meaningful to the circle of the American independent film establishment, both artistically and as a business model."

    I've produced six (and DIY distributed two) indie features made by and starring people of color. Yet it's the one film I produced with a white cast and white director that most fully received the inner circle's sanction. It doesn't stop me from my work - maybe only long enough to appreciate the discrepancy - but it does boggle my mind that so many in the indie film world lack the desire to look beyond what the establishment lets in.

  • Mitchell Teplitsky | May 10, 2011 5:42 AMReply

    Great post. Something I often think when I go to a documentary film gathering, especially when I'm in NYC where I live -- "this is like the highest concentration of white people" of any circle I move in, in NYC.

    But I don't think it's so much race that defines doc filmmaking. i think it's education and class. More than this industry likes to let on, most producers and inner circle " names" have means. How could you possibly spend so much time doing this work otherwise, if you really had to make a living? Or spending so much time making that name for yourself? Of course there are exceptions.

  • Dana Harris | May 8, 2011 1:00 AMReply

    Adding more of the same: That is a great post. Ava, emailing you via DVA; you can also find me at dana@indiewire.com

    Dana Harris
    Editor in chief, Indiewire

  • LvFlg | May 6, 2011 4:56 AMReply

    It seems Ava has said it all - there is nothing more to say - only taking action.
    Part of the action is being supportive of filmmakers like Ava - spreading the word...keeping it real.

  • Yvonne Welbon | May 6, 2011 1:25 AMReply

    There was really robust indie film self-distribution happening in Chicago about 5 years ago. The black filmmakers who were part of the "establishment" - went to film school, screened on the festival circuit etc. couldn't figure out who was making all of these black indie films being screened around Chicago.

    FINALLY someone came up with the idea of organizing a meeting and bringing us all together. It resulted in the creation of Chicago Alliance of African American Filmmakers (CAAAF).

    What I learned from those TRULY indie black filmmakers was amazing. One filmmaker had self-distributed a film that he produced for only a few thousand dollars. He told me that he had done 50,000. I thought. Not bad $50,000 on a film that cost only a few thousand. But, actually he had sold 50,000 units! Using Filmbaby! Remember Filmbaby? These filmmakers used youtube, and a number of very, very old school grassroots strategies to build audiences. They are definitely way OFF the radar.

    I self-distributed my film LIVING WITH PRIDE:RUTH ELLIS @100 back in 1999 - 2001 (pre-DVD) and made $100,000 and spent less than $10,000 for that return.

    All of this is to say that those who are part of the "system" often can't imagine these realities because it's not something they have been able to achieve themselves. So how can we?

  • doghouse | May 5, 2011 12:38 PMReply

    Audrey, just one more reply, damned interlopers that we are here. It strikes me that the contradiction comes closest to being resolved in the U.S. by cable TV. Some of the dramatic series are about as close as you can get to mass-market entertainment with interior interests. That it had to come from corporate America is either cause for rejoicing or blowing one's brains out.

    Of course, these series are also a writers' medium, which is not the case with American indie film.

  • Victoria Mahoney | May 5, 2011 9:50 AMReply

    I am deeply moved by Ava's eloquence, and inspired by her fearlessness cum intellect cum instincts. While all the taste makers were sitting around blogging about indie's chaotic uncertain climate; Ava was out walking the walk [literally reconfiguring the model for distribution]. DuVernay set active foot forward and did a twenty city-non four wall-run that gatekeepers say, "is not possible."

    I honor the level of grace you sustained throughout the nationwide run of your film, and equally throughout the stretch of this essay. I tip my hat to you, for having the wisdom to invite a discourse on, "What Color Is Indie?". (Knowing, if we gathered a couple dozen brown filmmakers onto a panel and spoke honestly about the overt lack of distribution care, interest or support--heads would f*cking spin at our collective horror stories!!)

    On behalf of [Women filmmakers], I Thank you, Ava for carving a delicious-brand new-exciting path.
    On behalf of [Brown filmmakers], I thank you, for sounding the gong. On behalf of [Ignored filmmakers], I thank you, for proceeding "without permission."
    On behalf of [Filmmakers], I Thank you, for rewriting the rules.
    On behalf of [Indie spirits], I thank you, Ava DuVernay, for CHANGING THE GAME!!

  • AVA DuVERNAY | May 5, 2011 6:05 AMReply

    Seems some have taken this essay as a call for recognition. It was written as a call for collaboration. The kind that could benefit all involved. Benefit filmmakers of all sorts who need traction to create and sustain more work. And, benefit an industry struggling to thrive. This was not a plea. But I suppose everything is up for interpretation through one's own lens.

    Arsenio-DogPound-ArmTwirls to those who caught my drift. Ever onward...

  • Audrey Ewell @AudreyEwell | May 5, 2011 4:29 AMReply

    Ava, please forgive me for monopolizing your post's comments, but I have to reply to Doghouse. He's my favorite dancing partner here, though it seems that today we're sparring.

    But it's late, and I have to break it down to stay organized.

    1)It seems to me we can aspire to one or the other, but not both: either the careerism or the art.

    This is the crux of where we disagree. I believe that you can marry art and commercial entertainment if you use genre as the skeleton for your art's flesh and blood. I intend to prove this. Until The Light Takes Us was our first volley.

    2) Consider also, how can one vilify the indie establishment on the one hand, and then demand recognition from it on the other? Are we angry because the club is rotten, or because we can’t get into it?

    Yes.

    Okay: life is contradiction. We want the privileges that membership affords. Of course we do. Why is that weird? It's very hard to work entirely outside the system. Will we do what it takes to get our films in front of the largest audience possible, feeling that the work itself is what matters, and not the means? Yes. Of course.

    3) Granted, this is a hopeless picture of the medium, American indie film is proof of that.

    Oh, I agree that American indie film is in a sorry state. So while I still have the fight in me, I will try to make it better. It takes a tremendous toll, but on the other hand, I tend to feel most alive when I'm fighting. Only certain personality types can do film. It feels a lot like war, and I'm only too aware that other countries actually have a support system that fosters film as art. Here, you have to be a warrior (or rich).

    4) The best we can do these days is Jane Eyre remakes.

    Ha. I know. That's why I'm still fighting. We CAN do better. It is possible. We will forge the path, if we can manage it. PR and recognition will help us do so.

    And Doghouse, we are only human. It is only a mark of that humanity that we occasionally want to be encouraged, told that we've done well. That our work matters. That it was seen, and heard, and felt. A compliment from an idiot is still more palatable than an insult. Though an insult from a genius offers more than a compliment from a fool.

  • doghouse | May 5, 2011 3:47 AMReply

    Audrey, without reference to Ava DuVernay or her film, this business is full of seemingly conflicting expectations, which never seem to get sorted out.

    So many want to be deemed artists. More than a few want to be deemed great artists. And yet there's also this expectation of mass-market success, in the form of the Filmmaker Magazine cover, the podium and seminar table at Sundance, adulation in the press and (of course) the big sale and commercial release.

    It seems to me we can aspire to one or the other, but not both: either the careerism or the art. If the career eventually flowers thanks to the art, great. But that's entirely incidental. By definition, art (and particularly self-declared alternative cinema) is not a mass-market medium. That's why it's "alternative"! And of course art will be very, very rare. Not one in ten thousand will meet that standard, if "art" still means anything.

    Consider also, how can one vilify the indie establishment on the one hand, and then demand recognition from it on the other? Are we angry because the club is rotten, or because we can't get into it?

    Granted, this is a hopeless picture of the medium, if it's assumed (quite reasonably?) that great alternative filmmaking is only rarely possible on the personal resources of the filmmaker. But that's where we are. The institutions with resources are depraved, while self-produced films rarely succeed in the narrative realm for lack of resources. This has gone on for years, and will likely continue for many more. There's no limit to how bad it can get. American indie film is proof of that. The best we can do these days is Jane Eyre remakes.

  • NothingButAMan | May 4, 2011 11:19 AMReply

    I agree w/ Ricky.Horne.Jr, It would be awesome if the AFFRM folks could report their numbers to Rentrak, so it's on the record that this film had a successful run...

  • Audrey Ewell @AudreyEwell | May 4, 2011 10:53 AMReply

    Doghouse: The failure to score a Filmmaker cover, an indiefilm write-up or the admiration of the Sundance establishment does matter. It matters in how easy or difficult it is to get our next films made. I'm sure you've seen the stats on the relative times it takes women and men to make their second films. I don't know what being non-white adds to that discrepancy, but it's already absurd. When the indie film establishment doesn't support us, it isolates us and makes it that much harder to get financed and supported for number two. Or three. Or four.

    While the strongest among us find alternative means of support and distribution, it takes longer. Much, much longer. And yes, there is now crowdfunding, but that's limited and won't work for all films (and certainly won't work for films over a certain budget). Until and unless there is a full-scale cultural paradigm shift, the support of our industry, peers and elders matters.

    What we do is also damn hard. It'd be nice to be recognized for our successes. It'd be nice to have a little more support next time. Mind you, we're not waiting around for it to fall into our laps. Doesn't sound like Ava is either.

    I do agree with you that there are other problems in indiefilm as well, and that there is a breakdown of aesthetics and scope, but the pr and distro aspects are incredibly important to (marginalized) filmmakers.

  • doghouse | May 4, 2011 8:31 AMReply

    As indie film efforts go, it's hard to see this film as anything but a glorious success. There's no word on how the film was financed, but the picture here is not one of an outlier crushed by a hostile industry or the indie film clique. The film, after all, got made, got seen widely on the festival circuit, and got written up by Roger Ebert, in the NY Times and elsewhere. That result is usually counted a miracle for a non-Hollywood movie, in a field of thousands.

    Does the failure to score a Filmmaker cover, an indiefilm write-up or the admiration of the Sundance establishment (which is apparently forthcoming now) mean all that much? It certainly doesn't for audiences.

    Will we *never* consider that the present crisis in independent or alternative film, of whatever color or origin, is aesthetic and cognitive, not one of publicity and distribution?

  • Bill Hilly | May 4, 2011 7:55 AMReply

    great post! you are my hero! it's about damn time someone on this blog called out the dumbass gatekeepers and tastemakers. they're not just white people, but a special ignorant breed of white people that only appeal to elitist smug yuppie hipster types that think their shit don't stink. it's not just people of color, these assclowns are also exclusionary towards other white people such as myself who comes from appalacia.

    you are right that the current indie establishment is a small, tight circle and as you have proven it is not necessary to appeal to these pricks. their days of power are waning. no longer do we outsiders have to kiss their butts or suck their tiny peckers.

    thank you for posting this, it has inspired me even more to ignore the indie establishment and take my own path.

  • Brian Newman | May 4, 2011 7:40 AMReply

    Great post Ava, and I've been following you and the film since before Sundance even though none of the mainstream/white indie publications were making it any easier for me. I remember when I moved to Atlanta, and my old friend Will Packer was reverse four-walling "Trois" to the biggest per-screen in the country and no one would pay attention. Cut forward to recently when I was in a Peter Broderick workshop and he used Tyler Perry as an example and 95% of the (white) room didn't know who he was! These blinders need to be removed. But, what I like most about what you're doing, as well as many smart indie folks of all backgrounds are trying, is just saying "F all that, let's just make it work." Kudos to you on the success.

    On a small side note, Will Packer also worked with Mark Wynns and Ira Deutchman to bring the last Sayles film to multiple HBCU's, also working with their students to promote the film within the black community. More people should be doing the same.

    Keep up the good work - Brian Newman

  • Jeffrey Winter | May 4, 2011 7:16 AMReply

    Thanks for the post Ava. Inspired by our board member Effie Brown, we at The Film Collaborative (filmcollaborative.org) have also been looking to launch an initiative to support black filmmakers, and as you know we continue to want to work with you. We'd love to see your work spread beyond limited theatrical into the many ancillary distro streams that can reach far more households and potential audience members.

    We also believe strongly in the power of grassroots marketing to bring "niche" films to underserved audiences. In many ways, the "straight, white" indies are the HARDEST to market and distribute...in thinking that they are for "everyone" they are too often for no-one. In the contemporary fractured distro universe, its actually works by people of color that excite us for their potential to rise above the glut and find truly appreciative audiences.

    It would be great Ava if you could check out a new film by our member Tanya Wright, whose film BUTTERFLY RISING will premiere at Langston Hughes FF. We specifically recommended she premiere there so it would cross your radar!

  • Kerry-Ann | May 4, 2011 7:13 AMReply

    Very insightful and courageously honest post Ava!! Thanks for writing and sharing this.

  • Robin Rosenthal | May 4, 2011 5:58 AMReply

    A great post with a big message for ALL the long-time indie filmmakers who haven't cracked the Indie Establishment. Hey, we don't need to. There ARE other ways. Congratulations Ava!

  • Jason Gilmore | May 4, 2011 5:58 AMReply

    Outstanding post Ava, you are hitting on all cylinders.

    Thank you for verbalizing what has been on the hearts & minds of independent film lovers of the African diaspora for years. I remember being in film school & falling in love with the works of Kurosawa, Truffaut, DeSica etc and later wondering why if I could be so touched by films of a different GENERATION, made in a different LANGUAGE & COUNTRY, then why were my fellow countrymen so diametrically apathetic to films made by people who looked like me, when the only barrier between us was the color of our skin. It is a rhetorical question that I still have not fully been able to answer.

    But the actions of AFFRM & posts like this are helping to bridge the gap. The time is right & I plan to join you soon.

  • Joe Doughrity | May 4, 2011 5:24 AMReply

    Great article by a great filmmaker who puts her money where her mouth is. Her indie cred should be without question and I'm sure folks from Micheaux to John Sayles would be proud of her efforts. If you didn't catch I WILL FOLLOW on the big screen do yourself a favor and watch the DVD when its released!

  • Kimberly Renee | May 4, 2011 5:16 AMReply

    Excellent post! Your passion for independent film is evident and I am consistently inspired by your work. I loved 'I Will Follow' and I'm looking forward to the next chapter of AFFRM. Above all else, I appreciate your willingness to not only talk about the issues facing black independent films and filmakers, but also do something to change the landscape.

    Kudos!

  • Nova Giovanni | May 4, 2011 5:11 AMReply

    Great article. I agree. Instead of trying to label what Indie Films should look like & who they are presented to - the focus should be on making QUALITY & using more avenues in getting it out. Thanks for the great read.

  • Sujewa | May 4, 2011 5:07 AMReply

    Nice post Ava, & congrats on the success of Will Follow. The color of official indie in America right now is mostly "white", but it is changing slowly. As with the case with Shadow & Act (i interviewed Tambay back in 2008 for a doc about blogging when he was just thinking about launching Shadow & Act) & now your film, & also Medicine for Melancholy, getting things going first & then being open to connecting with already up & running folks like indiewire, fests, ted hope, etc. is definitely the way to go. I think, in much of mainstream America, the overwhelming "black"-ness in one medium or another or the "white"-ness in one medium or another is mostly just a left over habit from segregation, because at this point there is no advantage, only loss - financial & otherwise - when an idea or a product aims to cater to only one race/ethnic/whatever* group. Will post something about Will Follow at my blog DIY Filmmaker later today.

    ::

    *on a deeper, beyond indie film, level - people's reactions based on skin color, physical fatures, tribal or national mythologies, etc will not go away until race theory (the belief in existence of races) goes away. that may take 600 years (the amount of time, roughly, modern race theory has been in existence, since the start of the age of exploration) or it may take 5 years (with sped up information sharing/flow world wide now). either way, the end of the idea of races, not merely racism - which is an idea based on the idea of races - is definitely on the way . after that, we won't be paying attention to movies based on what kind of people made them or what kind of people mostly watch them (but, given the nature of the human heart, we may come up w/ something just as negative as the idea of races to replace race theory with, who knows, but lets hope not, universal individualism seems to be getting popular)

    ::

    - Sujewa

  • Audrey Ewell http://www.blackmetalmovie.com | May 4, 2011 5:02 AMReply

    I know what you're saying, and thanks for the hat tip. I felt that frustration while distributing (and doing a fine job of it) Until The Light Takes Us (we opened with the second highest per screen average in the country) and yet we could not get sites like Indiewire to take any notice. The mainstream press was actually much friendlier to us. We still do not get invited to share our knowledge with other filmmakers/industry on panels. It would surprise me if I didn't already know what a closed circle it can be. But that's the nature of power, Ava, and isn't that what we're really talking about?

    In a way it's different for me, since even though I'm a no-longer-20-something female filmmaker, my taste actually runs toward that of 20 year old guys (of pretty much any race, I think). Sci-fi, genre, action & video-games float my boat - but I also love art films and noir and films from earlier eras, when action/suspense didn't translate as lowest common denominator. Since I'm not wanting or trying to make films specific to my experience as a woman say, I find it easier to expand the definition of what's possible by putting my spin on otherwise familiar looking things. For instance, UTLTU was about violent male criminal musicians - but its emotional resonance was achieved by focusing on the friendship of two of them. The female lead in my next film is complex - she subverts tropes - but the film is not about that. You see what I'm saying? So I don't have to try and drag anyone to see it. It's part of a larger story.

    But I don't mean to imply that you can't or shouldn't be able to make films that focus more exclusively on what you want to show. You've demonstrated that you have an audience, and the ability to make films and reach them, and what you're asking for now is recognition, and perhaps a greasing of the wheels next time; very reasonable.

    So, the thing I figured out is that we can't ask for recognition. We have to take it. Which you're also doing. And which this blog helps with. So you're doing the right things. It's frustrating, I know, but keep it up. There's a history of those with less power changing things. You can choose violence and anger, or you can inspire people with the vision you conjure up. Or both.

  • Vincent B. | May 4, 2011 4:59 AMReply

    This was a GREAT article. Glad to see our people of color striving for excellence and continuing to push forward in a industry that sometimes excludes us. For those of us who love the arts in general this is inspiring and I wish you much continued success on this journey. Break down the walls until our voice is heard. Hopefully the film will make its way to Chicago soon.

  • Miles Maker | May 4, 2011 4:58 AMReply

    GREAT post.

    The upper echelon of indie film is a pretentious bunch of attention hoarders with the keys in one hand and the shiny new car parked on the grass just to show it off. They take it out for a spin on the weekends with very close friends, but stick to cruise-worthy streets & avenues rather than exploratory drives through unfamiliar backstreets.

    It's unfortunate that the pedigree indie 'powers that be' steward our movement with such big blissful blinders on; clueless to the noteworthy contributions of fellow creatives entirely unlike them. Of course we'd all like to 'relate' to our peers--this is human nature, but inclusive curation comes from one's ability to discern exceptional content from perspectives unlike their own. Perhaps they're aware of our existence but refuse to acknowledge us? Jodie Foster recently said, "When you give that amount of power up, you want them to look like you and talk like you and think like you and it’s scary when they don’t, because what’s gonna happen?" (LA Times, April 20 http://lat.ms/hOyvv1)

    With or without their recognition, guidance or support of our constituents, we WILL get we're going; and in light of our pressing need to innovate along the way, we may actually 'get there' before anyone else does.

  • on twitter: @iRahsaan | May 4, 2011 4:58 AMReply

    When there is no way, make one. Great post.

  • Ricky.Horne.Jr. | May 4, 2011 4:47 AMReply

    I have been on hope for film's website as well as indiewire and wondered why there wasn't any box office results for "I Will Follow" or Moozlum at times when I knew that they were in the midst of a very successful run. I dream of achieving similar success with my own films that WILL have some color to them, and I cant wait to hear WHY. Is it indifference or ignorance? I'd love to hear a response from the "mainstream" indie stalwarts....

    Ava is my hero.

  • Matthew A. Cherry | May 4, 2011 4:27 AMReply

    Great post Ava. Great to see someone putting their money, time and effort where their mouth is and taking a step forward to promote the indie film scene for African Americans. Shadow and Act recently becoming a part of Indiewire was one of the first times I ever clicked on this site and now that Ted Hope is showing love, hopefully I will continue to have reasons to keep coming back.

Hope on social

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