Tag: black female directors

Ava DuVernay to Direct DC’s Superhero Epic ‘New Gods’

Ava DuVernay (photo via Variety.com)

by Dave McNary via Variety.com

Ava DuVernay is stepping into the superhero universe. The filmmaker has come on board to direct “New Gods” at Warner Bros. as part of the studio’s DC Extended Universe. “New Gods,” based on the DC Comics series of the same name, is aimed at creating a new universe of properties for the studio. Created and designed by Jack Kirby, the comic was first released in 1971.

The movie marks the second major superhero tentpole directed by a woman, following another DC property: Patty Jenkins’ “Wonder Woman.”

DuVernay directed Disney’s “A Wrinkle in Time,” becoming the first woman of color in Hollywood to helm a live-action film with a production budget of $100 million. The time-travel fantasy has grossed $42.2 million in its first six days in North America.

The New Gods are natives of the twin planets of New Genesis and Apokolips. New Genesis is an idyllic planet ruled by the Highfather, while Apokolips is a dystopia filled with machinery and fire pits ruled by the tyrant Darkseid. New Genesis and Apokolips call themselves gods, living outside of normal time and space in a realm known as the Fourth World.

Half a dozen “New Gods” series have been published following the original. The most recent, “The New 52,” was issued in 2011.

DuVernay also directed the Oscar-nominated documentary “13th” and the civil-rights drama “Selma.” She is the creator and executive producer of the OWN series “Queen Sugar.”

“New Gods” would be a major addition to the DC Extended Universe, which Warner Bros. launched in 2013 to take advantage of the massive DC library and compete with Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe. The DCEU launched with 2013’s “Man of Steel,” followed by “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” “Suicide Squad,” “Wonder Woman,” and “Justice League,” which was the lowest grosser of the five titles, with $657.9 million worldwide.

“Aquaman,” starring Jason Momoa, is the next title in the DC Extended Universe, set for release on Dec. 21. The studio is also moving ahead with a “Wonder Woman” sequel with Gal Gadot and director Jenkins returning. The pic hits theaters on Nov. 1, 2019.

In the wake of the box office under-performance of “Justice League,” Warner Bros. is re-organizing the DC film operations by promoting Walter Hamada to president of DC-based film production in an effort to exert more quality control over its big-screen efforts. Toby Emmerich, who was promoted in 2016 to president and chief content officer at Warner Bros., worked with Hamada at New Line, which he ran before moving over to the main studio.

To read more: http://variety.com/2018/film/news/ava-duvernay-superhero-movie-new-gods-dc-1202725043/

How Beyoncé’s “Lemonade” Helped Bring Julie Dash’s Groundbreaking Film “Daughters of the Dust” Back to Theaters

"Daughters of the Dust" directed by Julie Dash (poster via Cohen Media Group)
Poster for re-release of “Daughters of the Dust” directed by Julie Dash (via Cohen Media Group)

article by Yohana Desta via vanityfair.com

In 1991, Julie Dash’s sumptuous film Daughters of the Dust” broke ground as the first movie directed by a black woman to get a wide theatrical release.  Since then, the gorgeous tone poem about a Gullah family in 1902 has continued to gather accolades. It was added to the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress in 2004, and recently served as a heavy inspiration for Beyoncé’s visual album Lemonade.

Now, the film is being re-introduced to the mainstream in a splashy new way—the Cohen Media Group has created a rich 2K restoration that will be screened at the Toronto International Film Festival, then released in theaters again this November. (Watch the exclusive new trailer above to see the film restored in all its fresh, new glory, and scroll down to see the glossy new poster.)

Dash calls the new release “exciting.”“I never imagined it would be released again,” she says.  For the record, Dash is also a huge fan of Lemonade—and says that the visual album actually helped Daughters on the road to restoration. Read on to see her thoughts about Beyoncé, Hollywood, and whether she’d ever make a sequel to her classic film.

Vanity Fair: Were you paying attention at all to Lemonade, to the Beyoncé film?

Julie Dash: Yes. My phone blew up the night Lemonade came on and my Web site shut down . . . someone called me and said Daughters of the Dust is trending on Twitter. And I said, “No, it must be something else,” and they said, “No, it’s trending!” And I looked and it was, and it was so funny. It just tickled me to death. So I finally got a chance to see Lemonade and I was just very pleased. Lemonade is just—it breaks new ground. It’s a masterpiece.It’s a tone poem, a visual tone poem with various stories going on—vignettes. It’s just all visual, and it’s like yes.

To read full interview and see the “Daughters of the Dust” trailer, go to: How Beyoncé’s Lemonade Helped Bring a Groundbreaking Film Back to Thea | Vanity Fair

Ava DuVernay to Direct “A Wrinkle in Time” Movie Adaptation at Disney

Ava DuVernay Wrinkle in Time
Ava DuVernay (photo: JIM SMEAL/REX SHUTTERSTOCK)

article by Dave McNary via Variety.com

“Selma” director Ava DuVernay has come on board to direct Disney’s A Wrinkle in Time movie adaptation.

Jennifer Lee, who wrote and co-directed “Frozen” with Chris Buck, is penning the adaptation of Madeleine L’Engle’s book for Disney. The story follows children as they travel through time and visit strange worlds in order to find their missing scientist father.

Variety reported in 2014 that Lee was attached to “Wrinkle in Time,” which was one of her favorite novels as a child. She impressed Disney executives with her take on the project, which emphasizes a strong female-driven narrative and creatively approaches the science fiction and world-building elements of the book.

“A Wrinkle in Time” is the first book in L’Engle’s “Time Quartet” series that also includes “A Wind in the Door,” “Many Waters” and “A Swiftly Tilting Planet.”

 To read more, go to: http://variety.com/2016/film/news/ava-duvernay-wrinkle-in-time-movie-1201712895/

FEATURE: Debbie Allen Discusses Directing TV & Her Many Roles in “Grey’s Anatomy” Season 12

Director/Producer/Actor Debbie Allen (TERENCE PATRICK FOR VARIETY)

Debbie Allen rose to fame with “Fame,” serving as a director, producer and choreographer. She was also the first black woman to be Emmy-nominated in the dramatic lead actress category. More than three decades later, she has a recurring role on “Grey’s Anatomy,” and is a frequent director — and now executive producer of the show. “It’s a little crazy, but what a great life,” Allen tells Variety. “I’m like a cat on a hot tin roof that somehow landed on all fours.”

What are your new responsibilities on “Grey’s Anatomy” Season 12, being a director, actor and executive producer?

I’m very involved in every episode, in terms of production design. I’m selecting the directors this season, looking over everything from makeup and hair to the actors’ concerns. I spend a lot of time with the writers, which I love.

How do you balance acting in an episode that you’re also directing and producing?

It’s actually how I started on “Fame.” I trained in acting, literature and theater, so talking to actors is something I’m really used to doing. That gives me a little bit of an edge sometimes. I know how to speak the actor’s language. On “Fame,” I started as Ms. Lydia Grant and I was the choreographer, but I soon became their favorite director because I knew how to shoot the dance and then I understood the acting. Doing it all at the same time is how I came into it.

Have you noticed a big change in your role on “Grey’s,” now that you’re an executive producer?

Very dramatic change. I’ve always been there as a director and somewhat of a den mom — it’s interesting; so many of them grew up on “Fame,” and I’ll never forget the first time I directed, Patrick Dempsey started singing “Fame” and doing jetes, and I’m like, “Stop it already. Stop it!” — so now, there are things that are my responsibility or things that I keep my eye on or things that I can mitigate. I’m responsible for a lot of things, which is a wonderful position to have. I’ve done this once before on “A Different World.” I was the executive producer and director on that show for five years. But this is different. It’s an hour, it’s in its twelfth season, but it feels like it’s brand new.

Speaking of Patrick Dempsey, how is the set different without him?

We had a great relationship. My nickname for him was “Dash” — Dash was the kid in “The Incredibles” that was running fast. He would come through the set like that. He was on the move. Racing cars defines him for real. Patrick is not there so it changes the dynamic of the story for Meredith.

How much will you be featured in this season?

Catherine Avery is still a guest star. She’s not a series regular, but I’m there so when they need me now — last year, they had to go and try to find me — they can take advantage of me, and it’s okay! I’m not mad about it.

Continue reading “FEATURE: Debbie Allen Discusses Directing TV & Her Many Roles in “Grey’s Anatomy” Season 12″

Debbie Allen To Expand Her “Grey’s Anatomy” Role – Will Become Executive Producer & Director

Debbie Allen as Dr. Catherine Fox Avery on GREY'S ANATOMY
Producer/Actor/Director Debbie Allen

After appearing in the hit ABC Shonda Rhimes medical drama, and directing a number of episodes, Debbie Allen is getting ready to step into an even larger role, as an executive producer and regular director for the upcoming 12th season of the show, which actually hasn’t been officially renewed, but is obviously expected to be.

The ratings for “Grey’s Anatomy” continue to be strong for ABC, as part of the network’s booming Thursday night lineup, also known as Shonda night, given that all 3 drama series (“Grey’s,” “Scandal” and “How to Get Away with Murder”) that air in primetime on that day, are all Shondaland babies. Also, ratings have apparently surged ever since (SPOILER ALERT) the show killed off one of its key players in Patrick Dempsey. Although it’ll be worth paying attention to see whether the momentum carries.

Debbie Allen has directed episodes of several different TV shows over the years, dating back to “Fame” in the 1980s, to “Jane the Virgin” and “Empire” most recently. This new deal ensures that she will be even more involved in the production of the series from here-on, while still also recurring as Dr. Catherine Avery.

The final episodes of “Grey’s Anatomy” will air over the next two Thursdays.

article by Tambay A. Obenson via blogs.indiewire.com

‘Selma’ Director Ava DuVernay To Direct CBS Pilot ‘For Justice’

Ava DuVernay
Director Ava DuVernay (JASON LAVERIS/FILMMAGIC)

Ava DuVernay has signed on to direct CBS’s “For Justice” drama pilot, Variety has learned.

From “Law & Order” veteran Rene Balcer, who’s serving as writer and executive producer, the pilot follows a female FBI agent working in the Criminal Section of the Department of Civil Rights Division who finds herself caught between her radical real family and her professional family.

The project, based on James Patterson’s novel “The Thomas Berryman Number,” also has Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal, James Patterson, Bill Robinson and Leopoldo Gout attached to exec produce with Balcer. Berry Welsh will co-exec produce. CBS TV is the studio.

DuVernay is also creating an original television series for OWN with Oprah Winfrey, based on the novel “Queen Sugar.”

article by Elizabeth Wagmeister via variety.com

21st Annual African-American Film Marketplace and S.E. Manly Short Film Showcase to Feature Gina Prince-Bythewood & Michael Schultz

aafm14_logo-main

(Hollywood, CA) – The Black Hollywood Education and Resource Center (BHERC) hosts its 21st Annual African American Film Marketplace and S.E. Manly Short Film Showcase January 16-18, 2015 at Raleigh Studios, 5300 Melrose Avenue, Hollywood, California 90038.

Presenting 52 short films, youth films, documentaries and animated shorts, featuring over 45 Filmmakers from all over the country, Q&A after selected blocks of films, and an evening with famed director Michael Schultz and special surprise guest filmmakers.

michael schultz

On Friday, January 16, 2015 at 7:30 p.m. at the Opening Night Reception, BHERC will host a conversation with Schultz as it presents the best BHERC independent short filmmakers of 2014.

Schultz, an alumni of Princeton University, the Negro Ensemble Company, and an inductee into the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame, is best known for his direction of “Cooley High,” “Car Wash” and “Which Way Is Up?”, and most recently “Woman Thou Art Loosed.”  Some of his episodic television direction includes “Arrow,” “Single Ladies” and “Black-ish” to name a few.

Gina Prince-Bythewood (Writer/Producer/Director) wrote and directed the widely-acclaimed feature film “Love & Basketball,”  which premiered at the 2000 Sundance Film Festival. Prince-Bythewood won an Independent Spirit Award for Best First Screenplay and a Humanitas Prize for her work on the film.

She followed that success with the HBO film “Disappearing Acts.”  In 2008, she wrote and directed the celebrated adaptation of the best-selling novel, “The Secret Life of Bees.” The all-star cast included Dakota Fanning, Queen Latifah, Paul Bettany, Jennifer Hudson, Sophie Okonedo and Alicia Keys. The film won two People’s Choice Awards and two NAACP Image Awards.gina prince-bythewood

Her third feature, “Beyond the Lights,” was released on Nov. 14, 2014. The love story set in the music world, stars Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Nate Parker, Minnie Driver and Danny Glover. It received rave reviews and landed on a number of top critics Best of 2014 lists.

Prince-Bythewood studied at UCLA Film School, where she received the Gene Reynolds Scholarship for Directing and the Ray Stark Memorial Scholarship for Outstanding Undergraduate.  Upon her graduation, she was hired as a writer on the television series “A Different World.”  She continued to write and produce for network television on series such as “Felicity,” “South Central,” and “Sweet Justice”  before making the transition to directing.

Continue reading “21st Annual African-American Film Marketplace and S.E. Manly Short Film Showcase to Feature Gina Prince-Bythewood & Michael Schultz”

Kerry Washington to Star in Warner Bros. Thriller “Unforgettable”

Kerry Washington Starring in Unforgettable
Kerry Washington (AMY GRAVES/GETTY IMAGES)

“Scandal” actress Kerry Washington is in talks to star in the Warner Bros. thriller “Unforgettable,” sources confirm. The deal is still in the early stages but sources say both sides are determined to get a deal worked out.

“Belle” director Amma Asante is set to direct the film, which centers on a man whose new wife is menaced by his ex-wife. Warner Bros.-based Denise DiNovi is producing with partner Alison Greenspan. Christina Hodson is writing the script for “Unforgettable.”

article by Justin Kroll via Variety.com

“Belle” Director Amma Asante on How the Indie Drama Turned Her Into a Hollywood Player

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Amma Asante on set of “Belle” (Photo Courtesy Fox Searchlight)

If you asked most people in Hollywood who Amma Asante was just a few months ago, you’d probably get a blank stare. Now, after the release of her critically acclaimed film “Belle,” the British writer-director is a certified Hollywood player.

Asante’s life and career took a dramatic turn in May, when “Belle” hit theaters in North America. TheWrap spoke with her this past weekend in Boston at the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) Convention, where Asante introduced clips of the film during a presentation by Fox Home Entertainment.

“You make a movie essentially in a bubble, I think, especially when it’s your second movie,” Asante said. “So, I was certainly making this movie in a bubble, and wondering whether my concept of the world, and my concept of the world back then as well, would connect to an audience today.”

It seems Asante had no reason to worry. “Belle” received an impressive 83 percent positive rating on review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes and the independent film earned a respectable $10 million at the box office via Fox Searchlight.

RELATED: “Belle” Does Well in Limited Release; Expands to 10 More Cities Next Weekend

The movie is based on the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) – the illegitimate, mixed-race daughter of Royal Navy Captain, Sir John Lindsay (Matthew Goode). Lindsay leaves Belle to be raised by her aristocratic great uncle, Lord Mansfield, in 18th century England. Mansfield (Tom Wilkinson) and his wife (Emily Watson) are already taking care of another niece, and the two girls become inseparable. But while Belle’s lineage allows her certain privileges, her skin color prevents her from having the traditional noble social status.

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Amma Asante speaks at NABJ in Boston, Friday, Aug. 1, 2014 (Credit: Brett E. Chambers)

“Initially this project had started off with my producer and the writer who’s credited on the film, with HBO in America. Then HBO dropped the project,” Asante said. After the script passed through several different hands, Asante decided to give it a more personal touch.

“What I did was, I put my experiences into Dido’s life. That was the easiest way of connecting the historical facts and to try and make it personal … There are many lines in it that are quotes from my father and quotes from my sister,” Asante said, referring to the fact that she grew up in England, but felt like an outsider because she is black and of Ghanaian descent.

“We lived in an area where we were one of only two black families on the street,” Asante explained as she opened up about her personal experiences with racism. “We went through that period of having feces through the letterbox (mailbox) … and graffiti on our walls.”

Continue reading ““Belle” Director Amma Asante on How the Indie Drama Turned Her Into a Hollywood Player”

Regina King Joins “American Crime” Cast, Returns to “Big Bang Theory” and will Direct Upcoming Episode of “Scandal”

We’ll be seeing a lot of Regina King during the next season, both in front of and behind the camera.  King has joined the cast of John Ridley’s new ABC drama series, “American Crime,” and will return to CBS’ “The Big Bang Theory” to reprise her role.

“American Crime,” which Ridley is writing, directing and executive producing, follows a racially-charged murder case and the trial that follows, as audiences will experience the murder and trial through the eyes of several different people who are, in some way, connected to the events. It’ll frankly tackle matters of race, class and gender politics in the USA.

King will play the devoutly religious sister of one of the series’ key characters, who comes to Modesto in order to help her brother handle a judicial system that she believes is stacked against him.  King will appear in 7 episodes of the new series, with an option for two additional.

As for her return to CBS’ “The Big Bang Theory”… The show is primarily centered on 5 characters living in Pasadena, California: roommates Leonard Hofstadter and Sheldon Cooper, both physicists; Penny, a waitress and aspiring actress who lives across the hall; and Leonard and Sheldon’s equally geeky and socially awkward friends and co-workers, mechanical engineer Howard Wolowitz and astrophysicist Raj Koothrappali.

King plays Mrs. Davis (a role she first played in 2013), who is the head of human resources where the physicists are employed, who previously was responsible for questioning Sheldon after he landed in hot water following an uncomfortable conversation with his sexy assistant, Alex (Margo Harshman).

Meanwhile, behind the camera, King will direct the 16th episode of ABC’s “Scandal” during its fourth season, which will air during the second half of the upcoming 4th season.  This comes after the actress made her feature film directing debut with a TV adaptation of author ReShonda Tate Billingsley’s novel “Let the Church Say Amen” for BET.

article by Tambay A. Obenson via Shadow And Act

The Good Things Black People Do, Give and Receive All Over The World
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