The film explores author Isabel Wilkerson's theory that a caste system functions in American society. 'I need to make sure it [the film] gets to the audience, that it reaches folks, that it’s understood,' said DuVernay.
Ava DuVernay is a name that has shone brightly in the film community. Throughout her career, the director has been the recipient of many awards such as a Primetime Emmy Award, a NAACP Image Award, a BAFTA Film Award and a BAFTA TV Award. Her work focuses on social injustices, primarily regarding the Black American community. In recent times, there has been an attempt to suppress these topics by banning conversations around them, especially through books. Being a creator, DuVernay knows how harmful it is for a generation to grow without complete knowledge about certain topics and form opinions on them. Therefore, she has started an initiative where teenagers can watch her movies for free to accumulate knowledge about topics like racism, reports Good Good Good.
At present, DuVernay is gearing up for the release of her new venture “Origin,” which will open in theatres on December 23. The movie has been adapted from the non-fiction “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents” by Isabel Wilkerson. The book talks about the author's theory that a caste system functions in American society. She compared this caste system to similar phenomena in India and Nazi Germany. DuVernay has created a narrative tale around this theory. The film stars big names like Aunjanue Ellis, Jon Bernthal, Vera Farmiga, Audra McDonald, Niecy Nash-Betts, Nick Offerman and Blair Underwood. The production took place across three countries. It was recently screened at the Venice Film Festival.
During her talk with host Pat Mitchell at TEDWomen, DuVernay discussed her decision to make the movie free access for teenagers. The director feels that the movie is an important one for youngsters to see. “I need to make sure it [the film] gets to the audience, that it reaches folks, that it’s understood, that it’s interrogated, that it’s shared,” she said on the TED stage. “So, I have this crazy idea that I want every 16-year-old in the country to see the film for free if they want.” Hence, she launched Seat16.com, a website where anyone can come and donate $16, to sponsor the ticket for a teenager. “Starting this December, we want to share ‘Origin’ with 10,000 young people,” the website states. “Let’s help them change the world.”
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Currently, there is an ongoing movement to limit curriculum regarding slavery and systemic racism in schools. This increases the importance of a movie like "Origin," which in DuVernay's opinion, becomes an important addition to any young American’s education. She shares that their present goal is to reach 10,000 teenagers which will require the funding of $160,000 in donations. The director feels that as young teenagers grow up, they are in a vulnerable situation. They are attempting to understand the world and their place in it. Hence, it is extremely important that they are "autonomous in what they learn."
Duvernay thinks that teens should have the liberty to figure it all out for themselves. “That they’re not told what they can’t learn," she shared. "That they’re able to read what they want to read, see what they want to see. So, that’s our little solution.” The donations will be accumulated in a fund through the director's Array Alliance, Inc. She hopes that people are able to see the film with an open heart and mind. "I’ve seen when people do that—with this work, for whatever reason—good things happen,” she concludes.