Ava DuVernay is real. Thoughtful, necessary, and real. During her keynote address at South by Southwest, the director held forth about her work. About how she made her first narrative film, I Will Follow, and the road to Middle of Nowhere, her second film, winning the Best Director Prize at Sundance in 2012. Mostly, though, she spoke about Selma. Selma, the first feature film about Dr. Martin Luther King to hit theaters. Selma, which won near-universal praise when it debuted last December. Selma, which failed to earn a Best Director nomination because Academy voters skew old, white, and male. Thankfully, DuVernay isn't bitter.
"My work’s worth is not about what happens in, around, or for that room," she said. "It’s just a room. My intention was the serve the story." And with that, the audience — and the world, I think — could let go. And it felt good. It felt good to acknowledge that, as slow as Hollywood moves, more and better stories are being told about women and people of color. The work matters more than the award, and DuVernay is a part of that process.
In short, Ava DuVernay is a national treasure. Now go watch Selma.