Ava DuVernay Receives Huge Acclaim at NAACP Image Awards

While Lily Gladstone and Greta Gerwig’s Oscar snubs this year have been widely discussed, there is one important film that sorely lacked representation at the Oscars, and in the cultural conversation at large: Ava DuVernay’s Origin. Luckily, on Saturday, 3/16, Ava won the award for Outstanding Directing in a Motion Picture at the NAACP Image Awards. 

Ava DuVernay has always been an exceedingly influential filmmaker and a leader in the development of the world of film. From historical fiction to documentary, Ava has brought Black stories to the forefront throughout her career. One of her most notable films was Selma, a retelling of the 1965 voting rights march led by Martin Luther King Jr., which led to the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. FF2 Editor-in-Chief Jan Lisa Huttner called Selma “a triumph of activist filmmaking” and “one of the most significant films of [the] decade.”

Another film of great cultural importance was 13th, Ava’s documentary which explores the intersection of race, justice, and mass incarceration in the United States, focusing on the 13th Amendment’s role in perpetuating racial inequalities through the prison system. In her review of the film, FF2 contributor Rachel Kastner said, “13th is overwhelming. Jam-packed with important information, and tens of brilliant interviewees, it is simply a must-see.”

This year, Ava came out with Origin, a biographical drama about Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Isabel Wilkerson, portrayed by Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor, as she writes the book Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents. The film follows Wilkerson’s journey through Germany, India, and the United States as she researches the caste systems in each country’s history. Origin is a sweeping exploration of humanity’s history of race, class, and power that delves into the complexities of discrimination both on a global and a personal scale. 

Origin is also a story about the importance of storytelling and information-sharing, and a tribute to Isabel Wilkerson’s achievements. In an interview with FF2 Contributor Taylor Beckman, former librarian Mary Anne Knefel said, “Isabel Wilkerson doesn’t insert herself into the book (Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents), but her voice is there. Origin (the film) is about Isabel going on this journey. Origin almost created its own film genre. I loved the intellectual process personified. You could see the embodiment of Isabel’s genius.”

All in all, Origin is an absolute must-see. It does not waver in excellence from Ava’s other films, which is why it’s a tragedy that it was overlooked at the Oscars, and a relief that the NAACP Image Awards were able to honor Ava after all. Let’s celebrate Ava today by watching Origin, and bringing it to the forefront of our conversation. 

© Julia Lasker (3/28/24) FF2 Media

LEARN MORE/DO MORE

Read Stephanie Taylor’s review of Origin here. 

Read Taylor Beckman’s conversations on Origin here.

Read Ava DuVernay’s SWAN of the Day post here. 

Read Julia Lasker’s tribute to Ava DuVernay here.

Read Jan Lisa Huttner’s review of Selma here. 

Read Rachel A. Kastner’s review of 13th here. 

CREDITS & PERMISSIONS

Featured photo: Ava DuVernay arrives at the 55th Annual NAACP Image Awards held at the Shrine Auditorium and Expo Hall on March 16, 2024 in Los Angeles, California, United States. Photo Credit: Xavier Collin / Image Press Agency / Alamy Live News. Image ID: 2WTDFR8

Bottom photo: Ava DuVernay arrives at the 55th Annual NAACP Image Awards held at the Shrine Auditorium and Expo Hall on March 16, 2024 in Los Angeles, California, United States. Photo Credit: Xavier Collin / Image Press Agency / Alamy Live News. Image ID: 2WTDFR8

Tags: 13th, Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor, Ava DuVernay, Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents, Isabel Wilkerson, NAACP Image Awards, Origin, Selma

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As an associate for FF2 Media, Julia writes reviews and features for films made by women. She is currently a senior at Barnard College studying Psychology. Outside of FF2, her interests include acting, creative writing, thrift shopping, crafting, and making and eating baked goods. Julia has been at FF2 for almost 4 years, and loves the company and its mission dearly.
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