In the first public screening since Sundance premiered the film in US Dramatic Competition back in January, Middle of Nowhere was embraced by a beautiful black audience who filled the 800 seat LA Live Regal theater 1 at last night’s LA Film Festival. The energy was full of love and celebration for the highly esteemed colleague and friend to many, Ms. Ava DuVernay. The stunning Angela Bassett who introduced the screening said the film premiered under the radar at Sundance (it won Best Director Award – how under the radar is that?) before bringing up the poised and radiant DuVernay.
Some red carpet and Ava’s introduction
Somehow and regrettably I lost the footage of the Q&A on the flipcam so I’ll just mention what I remember. Ava’s actors joined her on the stage including the gorgeous doe-eyed lead Emayatzy Corinealdi, and Elvis Mitchell began to ask them to share their creative and collaborative process on set. I was struck to hear the artists talk about their craft and the characters they played in such a profound way which is a credit, they all agreed to Ava’s fine-tuned script. They highly trusted Ava (an actors director, always a good thing) and felt led by her security and confidence which she exudes on the daily. No doubt yet another advantage she brings to her directing suit and working ethic. Lorraine Toussaint was especially poignant and thanked Ava for walking the walk. Middle of Nowhere is being released through her own distribution company, AFFRM with Participant Media. Ava is not afraid but admittedly concerned with the uncracked test of whether black people are going to see this film and whether white people are going to see it. The real challenge is if the public will come out and buy tickets to see the film. After all, it is a small independent art film. She asked the audience a question she’s been thinking about; what kind of black movie would white people see? Precious? Someone said Men In Black – totally missing and making the point at the same time.
Ava has made a deeply personal film about separation and love, offering a unique point of view from the female who ‘does time’ on the outside while her significant other is incarcerated. The prison population being disproportionately black and brown it is a film that addresses the effects on such a personal level. Ava has been able to engage the support of likeminded peers in her corner from having worked in the publicity and business side of the game. While the road ahead has a pretty big challenge, she’s got the brights on to help her steer through the unprecedented waters of firsts (again, its got to be successful at the box office).
I’m happy to have been present for a really a magical moment. It felt like the public recognized the gift Ava is giving us in her work as an artist and inspiration as a business woman, totally owning it on all fronts of the film business. Her fierce desire to drive change and advocate for independent films of which she is the biggest fan is unbridled. She charged the audience to share and make this all our journey in supporting not just her film, but coming together to prove there is an audience and a profitable market in making and selling ‘our’ stories’. Because like Angela Bassett said the studios are already making money, they don’t need to do it, we need to and should. Amen sister!
Middle of Nowhere will be released October 12.
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