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Ava DuVernay to Champion ‘Queen Sugar’ Directors as Guest Artistic Director for AFI Fest



Ava DuVernay has joined this year’s edition of AFI Fest to serve as guest artistic director.

As part of the gig, DuVernay has hand-picked three independent films as a way to “amplify the voices and vision of women directors,” per the American Film Institute. Those films are Kat Candler’s Hellion from 2014 starring Juliette Lewis and Aaron Paul, Aurora Guerrero’s Mosquita y Mari from 2012 and Victoria Mahoney’s Yelling to the Sky from 2011 starring Gabourey Sidibe and Zoë Kravitz.

The films will screen as part of the fest and DuVernay will moderate a panel with the helmers, all of whom are part of her historic roster of all-women directors for her OWN drama series. Queen Sugar. The outing for DuVernay marks a return to AFI Fest as her feature directorial debut, I will followscreened as part of the 2010 lineup.

As such, DuVernay said the festival “holds a special place in my heart.” She added: “I still remember the feeling of validation and encouragement. It meant so much to me as a first-time woman director to be seen and embraced. So, it is a true honor to be invited to serve as the guest artistic director.”

She called the trio of filmmakers she’s chosen to spotlight as “remarkable” talents. “With this programming, I want to wave a flag for what can happen when women have the opportunity and support that is consistent with our male counterparts. Beautiful things blossom. My thanks to AFI Fest for agreeing with and amplifying that notion.”

Previous guest artistic directors include Pedro Almodóvar, Bernardo Bertolucci, Agnès Varda and David Lynch. “The world looks to visionary artists to create a brighter future, and Ava DuVernay is leading the way,” said Bob Gazzale, AFI president and CEO. “We are honored to shine a proper light upon her selections – films that will inspire audiences and artists alike.”

AFI Fest runs in Los Angeles from Nov. 2-6. As previously announced, it opens with the Apple documentary Selena Gomez: My Mind and Me and closes with Steven Spielberg’s The Fabelmans from Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment.

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