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Ava DuVernay on 'Disappointing' awards show for 'Origin': 'Time will reward the film for its merits'

Ava DuVernay

Ava DuVernay

Arnold Turner/Getty Images

Ava DuVernay says that while her film Origin was “disappointing” during awards season and “didn't have the reach it needed in the Hollywood community,” she's proud of the “overwhelmingly positive, overwhelmingly positive” response it received from those who did who have accepted him.

Starring Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor, Jon Bernthal, Vera Farmiga, Audra McDonald, Niecy Nash-Betts, Nick Offerman, Blair Underwood and others, the Neon film is produced, directed and written by DuVernay and is based on Isabel Wilkerson's Caste: The Origins of Our Discontent. The film adapts Wilkerson's analytical exploration of how caste can serve as a framework for understanding American racism – alongside the caste systems of India and Nazi Germany – into a biographical drama that is described as poignant, ambitious and possibly “the most important biopic in a book.” will ever be made.”

In 's review, critic Lovia Gyarkye said that the film “wobbles as it attempts to reconcile the diverse narratives across continents, relationships and time.” But it is a “process film” that “offers a tender love story – one brought to life by the passionate and committed performances of Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor and Jon Bernthal.”

The film premiered at the Venice Film Festival last September before hitting theaters in December. Since then, the much-lauded film has struggled to capture the attention of awards season voters, who have paid more attention to other major contenders, including “The Flower Moon Murderers,” “Barbie,” “Oppenheimer,” “American Fiction,” “Poor Things.” , The Color Purple, Maestro, Rustin, The Holdovers, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, Anatomy of a Fall, All of Us Strangers, The Boy and the Heron and Past Lives.

Ellis-Taylor also weighed in on the lack of awards attention on Friday, telling People, “This film does something that is very, very bold.”

“I think it's creatively bold, I think it's bold in its message, I think it faces things in an innovative way. And I just think that we [in Hollywood] “Reward white people for this kind of work,” Ellis-Taylor continued.

Origin's honors include a Gotham nomination for Lead Actress for Ellis-Taylor, a Golden Lion nomination for Best Picture at the Venice Film Festival, and a smattering of nominations and awards from a handful of critics associations. But it was rejected by the Golden Globes, BAFTAs, DGA, SAG and Critics Choice Awards.

Ellis-Taylor, who attended the Critics Choice Awards last Sunday for her work in Justified: City Primeval, added that attending the ceremony was “hard” and said she “feels like Origin should have been there.” .”

On Thursday, the Critics Choice Women's Committee announced that the film would receive the Seal of Female Empowerment in Entertainment. The Oscar nominations are also scheduled to be announced on Tuesday.

According to DuVernay, the reason for the oversight is marketing. “It was disappointing that it didn't have the necessary reach in the Hollywood community in terms of the industry considering awards, and that's because of the limited budget and the strategy of our distributors in the way it was done was implemented,” she told The Associated Press. “But I think that the response from the people that we've been able to get it to – through Array, through the filmmakers and through the cast and everyone who's kind of pushed to share it – when they see it has been overwhelmingly positive, overwhelming .” connected.”

In January, actress Ellis-Taylor was caught handing out postcards outside an LA theater to encourage people to see the film. “I was awarded maybe twice,” she said in a recent interview with A.frame, the Academy Awards’ digital magazine. “It’s funny because there’s a big billboard [at the theater], so it looks really cheesy or whatever. I'm standing on the billboard and I'm like, 'Hey, watch the movie!'”

“But I will be back sometime this afternoon and hand out more fliers,” she added during the recorded Zoom call. “Because if you don’t have millions of dollars to advertise it and there are no billboards on Sunset Boulevard, you have to do other things.”

While speaking to the AP, DuVernay praised other Hollywood members for showing up to the film and “raising their hands to talk about it and host screenings.” Among them were Ben Affleck, Sean Penn, Angelina Jolie, Dave Chappelle and Lin-Manuel Miranda. She also shared her appreciation for “people who buy tickets; people post; a community of artists really rallying around it.”

“Time will tell and time will reward the film for its virtues, which in my opinion are our finest,” she added. “Sharing stories about our common humanity and justice and dignity for all.”

January 19, 2024, 6:25 p.m: Updated with additional quotes from Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor.