Ava DuVernay Makes History At Venice Film Festival; Recalls Being Told ‘You Won’t Get In’

It was a gratifying moment for Ava DuVernay who made history at the Venice Film Festival this week years after she was told not to apply to the competition since, “You won’t get in.”

The Academy Award-winning director held a press conference for her new film, Origin, on Wednesday, September 6. She is the first African American woman at the 80-year-old festival to have a film compete for the Golden Lion, Variety reports.

DuVernay recalled the times she was discouraged from applying to the Venice festival due to age-old stigmas about Black filmmakers’ appeal to international audiences.

“For Black filmmakers, we’re told that people who love films in other parts of the world don’t care about our stories and don’t care about our films,” Duvernay explained.

“This is something that we are often told: you cannot play international film festivals, no one will come.”

The Wrinkle In Time director continued:  “People will not come to the press conferences, people won’t come to the P&I screenings. They will not be interested in selling tickets. You might not even get into this festival, don’t apply.”

“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told, ‘Don’t apply to Venice, you won’t get in. It won’t happen.’”

Origin stars Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor and Jon Bernthal. Based on Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson, the film follows the life and work of the Pulitzer Prize-winning author as she investigates the origins of injustice and uncovers a hidden truth that impacts society as a whole.

“This year, something happened that hadn’t happened in eight decades before: an African American woman in competition,” DuVernay said.

“So now that’s a door open that I trust and hope the festival will keep open.”

Origin is scheduled for release later this year. Others in the cast include Niecy Nash-Betts, Vera Farmiga, Audra McDonald, and Blair Underwood.

RELATED CONTENT: Ava DuVernay Creates Largest Hiring Network In The Industry With ‘Array Crew’ Expansion