Colman Domingo, David Oyelowo, Andre Holland and Stephan James in Selma. Photograph: Path/Allstar
The treatment of DuVernays Selma helped launch the #OscarsSoWhite debate, which has grown in the two years since the biopic failed to net a nomination for its director and star David Oyelowo, despite a best picture nod.
In 2010, before the movement began making headlines, DuVernay co-founded Array, a film distribution collective, to cultivate a diverse range of films from minority film-makers. Recent releases include Echo Park, Ashes and Embers and Ayanda. She was on hand at the Los Angeles film festival, alongside her ARRAY distribution and marketing team, Mercedes Cooper and Tilane Jones, to accept the events Spirit of Independence honor on behalf of the company.
All of us should be able to see ourselves, DuVernay said, in explaining Arrays initiative to reflect diversity in film. Everyone here loves film, yet a whole swath of film, a whole group of film-makers have been kept from them. That pisses me off and I dont accept it. I want to educate myself. I want to learn. I want see those films and I want to help those films be seen. Array is really about people hearing about what we do and reaching out to us and saying tell me.
On top of her Array duties, DuVernay is currently prepping her first big-budget film for a Disney, an adaptation of Madeleine LEngles sci-fi classic A Wrinkle in Time, about a time-traveling black girl traveling through the universe. Marvel had courted her to take on Black Panther, but she turned it down in favor of making the family film, which resulted in the blockbuster going to Creed director Ryan Coogler.
It wasnt the right project for me, DuVernay said of not making Black Panther. It was the perfect project for Ryan Coogler hes going to shake it up and present it to you on a silver platter.
DuVernay and Coogler are among three black film-makers recently tasked with helming studio tentpoles. Just last week, it was announced that Dope film-maker Rick Famuyiwa had signed on to direct The Flash, following Seth Grahame-Smiths surprise departure from the project.
Youre starting to get into a space where we get to see something we have not seen, which are black film-makers with a hearty amount of resources, DuVernay said, addressing the encouraging uptick. It will be interesting in the next couple of years to see these films come out where you have these new voices that have come up in an independent space, playing with these big toys and just seeing what that looks like. Isnt that exciting? Weve never seen it. What is it even going to look like?
Despite the recent advancements made by Hollywood in the wake of #OscarsSoWhite, DuVernay said that if diversity among all ranks in the film industry doesnt soon become the norm, the mainstream part of the industry is going to die.
There cant be moments, DuVernay said. It has to be the way we are whether by force of by familiarity.