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The NAACP Image Awards Nominations Ignore Ava DuVernay

Women and Hollywood By Melissa Silverstein | Women and Hollywood December 13, 2012 at 12:06PM

Dear Nominators of the NAACP Image Awards:
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Ava Duvernay
Sundance Institute

Dear Nominators of the NAACP Image Awards:

With all due respect, what the fuck were you thinking?

It's 6am here on the east coast and I am finally getting to read the nominations for the 44th NAACP Image Awards and my jaw is on the ground at how the work of Ava DuVernay was overlooked by this group.  How is it possible that this film could have received NO nominations except in the acting categories.  I am flabbergasted.  It's not that it would be a stretch to nominate this film.  That a woman's work is "not good enough" or whatever other crap committees use to justify ignoring women creatives.  This film and this writer/director has been generating accolades since the film premiered last January in Sundance when Ava became the first Afircan American woman to win best director.  The film has garnered other year end accolades including nominations from the Gotham Awards and the Independent Spirit Awards. 

Here's what the chair of the NAACP Roslyn M. Brock says about the nominees:

We are proud to celebrate the artists and activists who use their craft to share positive images of our culture.  The artistic community is an important ally for social justice, and the NAACP Image Awards provides an excellent venue to recognize those who make a difference through art and activism.

Are they ignoring Ava because she made a movie about a woman whose husband is in prison and the prison industrial complex figures so heavily in the story.  Is it because the film is about the reality of a woman's life and not enough of a "positive image."  And by the way that's a frickin loaded quote.  Why would you only be awarding people who use their craft to share positive images?  The job of artists is not only to show positive images, it is their job to reflect how they see the culture. 

By ignoring the contribution of Ava DuVernay the NAACP Image Awards has lost the opportunity to embrace one of their own, an African American woman who has fought against the odds to make a successful film about an African American woman.  A woman, not a girl (no offense to Beasts of the Southern Wild but see my story earlier this week of why we need more adult heroines.)  They missed an opportunity to support and nuture and embrace an African American moviemaker who will keep making movies about the African American female experience.   One that is sorely needed in the movies.

They should be ashamed of themselves for nominating Tyler Perry's Good Deeds for Best Motion Picture  (which is at 32% on rotten tomatoes) over Middle of Nowhere which is at 85% fresh.  And then to add insult to injury, to leave it out of the Outstanding Independent Motion Picture while including Red Tails which cost $59 million to make (according to box office mojo) again as well as Beasts of the Southern Wild is shameful.  There is no directing category so I can't lambast them for leaving Ava off that, but I can lambast them for including a Lifetime movie, yes a  Lifetime movie! for best writing in the Outstanding Writing in a Motion Picture - (Theatrical or Television) and a white English guy Ol Parker for The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (why is that even eligible?)

I am happy that the committee recognized three actors from this film, but let's remember that these fine actors did not direct themselves and those nominations were in some way safe since all those actors have been nominated before.

Why I am so mad is that we have so few African American female directors.  I want to acknowledge Neema Barnette whose film Woman Thou Art Loosed: On the 7th Day was nominated for best independent film.  But I still don't understand how these group of people missed this opportunity to validate the presence of this important female voice.

This article is related to: Ava DuVernay, Middle Of Nowhere, Women Directors


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