Creating Art, Creating Justice

December 1, 2017  • Arts Program

Ava DuVernay and Damian Woetzel

On October 5, the “Conversations with Great Leaders in Memory of Preston Robert Tisch” series featured award-winning film and television director Ava DuVernay, a 2017 Institute artist-inresidence. DuVernay spoke with Arts Program Director Damian Woetzel about the impact of her films, including Selma, the Golden Globe–nominated movie about the civil-rights movement—the first such nomination for a black female director. DuVernay said it is her mission to create opportunities for black filmmakers, particularly women, through her film collective, ARRAY. DuVernay also discussed 13th, her recent documentary that takes an in-depth look at the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery. She argues that racial injustice perpetuates slavery through mass incarceration. Woetzel noted that the film inspired the Ford Foundation and Agnes Gund’s new Art for Justice Fund to support criminal-justice reform. “13th has shown me the power of documentary film as a weapon,” DuVernay said. “And that is powerful.” DuVernay’s latest directing project, coming in March, is A Wrinkle in Time, based on the novel by Madeleine L’Engle.