By now we should all be familiar with the amazing Ava DuVernay. Not only has she been making her mark in Hollywood, but she’s stayed true to the idea of supporting your own. In 2014 DuVernay founded AFFRM, a distribution company focused on promoting and distributing films back African American filmmakers. Now in it’s 2nd year, DuVernay did something I’m pretty sure has never been done before. As part of AFRRM’s membership push, DuVernay and Co. hosted. 12-hour Rebel-A-Thon on twitter. For 12 straight hours, 43 filmmakers took to twitter to answers question from fellow filmmakers about topics ranging from creative process to production to distribution. Participating filmmakers included Tyler Perry, John Singleton, Julie Dash (my personal favorite), Justin Simien, Kasi Lemmons, the LEGENDARY Haile Gerima and the LEGENDARY Euzhan Palcy and a host of others. There was even an Oprah cameo.
42 black filmmakers. 12 hours. One website. One hashtag. Let me see if I can explain how important this was to black film. Any of us who are in the film industry know how difficult it can be to get films of substance about the African American experience produced and financed by mainstream outlets. This amazing e-symposium not only educated, but introduced black filmmakers to not only filmmakers they may not have been familiar with but with each other, helping to strengthen the African American film community. DuVernay is doing what is so badly needed. She is creating a platform for us to create and support our own images. To say that AFRRM is ground-breaking would be an understatement. AFRRM is revolutionary and is showing just how important and powerful black film and the community of black filmmakers real are.
As a filmmaker, this Rebel-A-Thon was a dream come true. Not only did I gain invaluable knowledge about being a filmmaker, but I also got the encouragement I needed to tell the stories I want to tell. Today’s directors kept it real. Nothing was sugar coated. That honesty is needed.
Thank you Ava DuVernay. You are a shinning of example of “do for self” and the work you continue to do for your people is inspiring a slew of filmmakers like myself to continue doing the work we do.
Did you miss the rebel-a-thon? You can read all 12 hours here. Don’t forget to head over to ARRAY Action and become a rebel. This is more than just a group. This is movement.