Ava DuVernay announced Tuesday that she is rebranding her film distribution company, the African American Film Festival Releasing Movement (AFFRM) and relaunching it as Array.
The company’s focus will now be on distributing more films by women and will extend beyond championing only Black filmmakers to include Latino, Asian, Native American, Middle Eastern filmmakers and directors.
“There’s a generation of filmmakers of color and women whose primary concern is that no one will see their work,” DuVernay said. “And that is a huge barrier. They’re asking, ‘Why make something if no one will see it?”
The film company was born out of persistence, tenacity and an inability to say no to dreams. It came a few years before Selma, when the now renowned director had her hands full with her first debut feature film, I Will Follow. The film, at the time, was too feminist, too Indie, and not what the box office wanted. Another infamous “no” pushed the director further into the fight for Black film talent to be acknowledged.
With Array, DuVernay is unapologetically telling Hollywood that filmmakers of color are equipped with captivating ideas and brilliant direction and must be seen.
“Right now, there is a fundamental disrespect inherent in the distribution and amplification of films. There is a cinema segregation in how films are seen and not seen. What we’re saying is, we’re not going to depend on those things anymore,” she said.
Since 2010, Array (formerly AFFRM) has released two movies a year every year, including Sundance Film Festival award winning Middle of Nowhere, written and directed by DuVernay and starring David Oyelowo. Luckily, we can expect new releases on the way. Come this November, Array will debut two more movies by two film makers of color. The first movie, Ayanda and the Mechanic, is a coming-of-age drama by South African writer-director Sara Blecher. The second, Out of My Hand is a tale of a Liberian plantation worker who journeys to New York, by Japanese director Takeshi Fukunaga.
Array will distribute films via indie film houses and streaming platforms like Netflix.
You can currently watch the brilliant Mississippi Damned by director Tina Mabry on Netflix.