Ava DuVernay has been in the business of making films for well over ten years, but it wasn’t until 2006 when the creator of the DuVernay Agency (DVA), an award-winning film marketing and publicity firm, stepped up the plate and made her first film. “I always loved film, but I never considered making my own. I think that’s just a kind of thing: a little black girl from Compton not having any examples of black women making their own movies.” After completing a short film in 2006, DuVernay moved to feature length films, both independently and with networks including 2008’s acclaimed This Is The Life (website), which had its theatrical release in 2009 and later aired on Showtime.
After completing two music documentaries, My Mic Sounds Nice for BET and Faith The Storm in 2010, DuVernay set her sights on her first narrative feature film, I Will Follow. “It explores the matters of the heart, about love and loss and just human nature. Black people loving and losing is something we don’t see enough of. We’re always in these heightened situations like something big is happening, something funny or something violent. And you know what? Sometimes we die of breast cancer or a broken heart. Things happen that are just not being explored cinematically. It’s time we reinvigorated that type of film.”
So far, Ava’s efforts are proving successful. I Will Follow (website) was released in five markets on March 11, and has received several festival awards, and much critical acclaim. Roger Ebert, in a glowing review, said the film was “one of the best I’ve seen about…the loss of a loved one.” (full Ebert review). After a solid opening weekend the film distribution expanded from five theaters to twenty-two theaters in fifteen cities. DuVernay’s production company Forward Movement, produced the film, and AFFRM (website), her newly-launched distribution company, was responsible for getting it out to the masses. “We sold out in Atlanta, we’re selling out in Charlotte, in New York, and LA…in Seattle, where they said there were no black people at all! It’s a matter of choice. If the choice is only one thing, then that’s all that people will see, but if you open up and give people more options, you can develop audiences for different tastes and kinds of stories.”
To buy tickets for I Will Follow, click here.