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Ava DuVernay's Important Message In Origin

December 28th, 2023Ava DuVernay's Important Message In Origin

ORIGIN opens January 19

Writer-director Ava DuVernay has commanded attention with her films since making her feature debut with I WILL FOLLOW in 2010. The storyteller has been deliberate with her choices, pursuing an interest in history for the Oscar-winning SELMA, but also willing to take on beloved fantasy adaptations, as she did with A WRINKLE IN TIME for Disney in 2018. DuVernay frequently explores other mediums when the narrative demands it, effortlessly switching gears to documentaries and television series. But she’s back in dramatic fashion in your closest AMC Theatres with the gripping, provocative, and thought-provoking ORIGIN, one of the most powerful movies coming to theatres with a wide release in January.

Like DuVernay’s previous films, ORIGIN takes a candid and no-holds-barred approach to important conversations about race, politics, and class divisions in our society. She does this by following the professional journey of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Isabel Wilkerson (Aunjanue Ellis) as she researches and writes her celebrated 2020 nonfiction book “Caste: The Origins of our Discontent,” starting with audio she heard about the murder of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin and tracing all the way back to historical events in India, as well as Nazi Germany in World War II.

ORIGIN asks enormous and important questions about racial patterns that have been established over time, both in our country and around the world. Even as Ellis, playing the investigative Wilkerson, tells her assigning editor (Blair Underwood), “I don’t write questions. I write answers.” Unfortunately, when it comes to race, answers aren’t crystal clear. And ORIGIN posits that answers never were clear, no matter when in the world they were being asked.

One miraculous aspect of ORIGIN is how DuVernay, the director, seamlessly visualizes Wilkerson’s study of world history into her contemporary narrative – which includes tragic events involving her husband, Brett Hamilton (Jon Bernthal), and the difficult decisions that come with placing her own mother in a retirement community. But in all of these personal events, Wilkerson finds inspiration and drive to continue her research into racial inequality in our history, and her writings help shape conversations that we likely will continue to have in the wake of ORIGIN, in post-screening talks with fellow audience members.

DuVernay understands the cinematic value of Wilkerson’s path, and delivers several emotionally devastating visual passages that cement the importance of the journalist’s work, and the importance of this film. She also figures out how to take big topics of family, history, oppression, resistance, and class structure and connect them to small, personal, human elements that unite us all, no matter our background, our regional origin, or our skin color.

Like Wilkerson’s book, ORIGIN establishes firm connections between our world’s past, and the turbulent present that continues to be written in daily headlines. It embraces complicated questions, offers contemplative answers, and inspires good conversation. Make sure you see ORIGIN when it’s playing at the AMC Theatres nearest you, for it continues to cement Ava DuVernay as a powerful voice on today’s cinematic landscape.

ORIGIN opens January 19

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