Ava DuVernay touched down at the Venice Film Festival on Wednesday evening with her new film Origin, which world premiered in Competition and received a more than eight-minute ovation in its debut screening.
DuVernay was visibly overjoyed by the audience’s warm response to the film. The director was making history as the first female African American director to compete for the festival’s prestigious Golden Lion award across its 80 editions, stretching back to 1932.
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DuVernay wrote, produced and directed the biopic, which is inspired by the life and work of Pulitzer Prize winner Isabel Wilkerson, following her creative and personal journey as she writes her seminal book, Caste: The Origin of Our Discontents.
Oscar-nominee Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor stars as Wilkerson in a cast also featuring Jon Bernthal, Niecy Nash-Betts, Vera Farmiga, Audra McDonald, Nick Offerman, Blair Underwood, Finn Wittrock, Jasmine Cephas-Jones and Connie Nielsen.
Paul Garnes and DuVernay produced Origin under her Array Filmworks banner.
Earlier at the press conference for the film, DuVernay said it was rare for two Black filmmakers who work as a producing team to make a film that travels.
“Black filmmakers are told people who love films in other parts of the world don’t care about our stories and don’t care about our films,” she said.
“We are often told you cannot play international film festivals, no one will come, people will not come to your press conference, people will not come to the P&I screenings… You will not get into this festival, don’t apply.”
Neon announced on the eve of the premiere that it had taken worldwide rights.
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