Art and film have always been the bridgeway into our imaginations; an orchestrated path
created at the hands of a master magician linking together sight, sound, and color to create new and inventive realities that playout on screen. However, these realities are more than entertainment, they are cultural influence pieces that affect society and how we view the world. As the saying goes, the artist always hides themselves within their art. It is by their vision that culture is influenced and moves forward creating another reason that various storytellers are needed to accurately reflect a diverse rich world. Over the last five years, we’ve seen more artists rise and have witnessed how their art has shaped the society. One such artist who has taken a profound step forward in influencing culture is a woman by the name of Ava Duvernay.
Ava Duvernay is a talented female director known for films such as “Selma,: “13th
Amendment” and most recently “A Wrinkle in Time” starring amazing female leads to the likes of Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon and Storm Reid. With this film, we are given a rich visually stunning world to explore tackling various themes within the context of fantasy. The story centers around Storm’s character, Meg, as she searches for her father in an incredible journey helped along by other amazing characters that include Mrs. Which, played by Oprah, as well as others. If you haven’t seen the film, no worries, we aren’t going to spoil it but do want to highlight the effects the film has had in moving culture forward on gender equality. Let us first mention that Ava has has been at the forefront of pushing culture forward for quite some time. Many may not know, but she has a background in PR and marketing through the founding of a PR company focused in entertainment. She is also one of the first women to helm a big budget studio film as its director. Still, though being a major player in Hollywood as one of the first women to lead such a big budget project, we still stand at the crossroads of celebration and disappointment as few other women have had the opportunity to be in a similar position. Statistically more men are given the opportunity to helm big budget pictures at a rate that far outpaces their female counterparts. It begs the question of how many other Ava Duvernays could be lying in wait ready for an opportunity to share their work. The mere fact that Ava has cracked the glass ceiling is something to be applauded but also to be considered as we stand curious to why she is in a class of her own as a leading female director.
What’s intriguing about “A Wrinkle in Time” is how the story is told from the perspective of a largely diverse cast with a minority female child as the lead protagonist contrasting to the white hero we have become accustomed to seeing on screen. The latter, just by its nature, helps create the idea that young women as well as diverse groups can be their own hero if you will with the competency, skill, and intellect to do so. The latter doesn’t dissuade including other groups as we see in the film as in life both men and women working together, however, it is nice to see another theme play out on screen. These themes can be seen in Ava’s other films most notably “Selma” and “Thirteenth Amendment” as we watch stories unfold from the perspective of voices not normally heard. For “Thirteenth Amendment” especially, we are given a scathing review of the criminal justice system and institutional racism at the beratement of African Americans. Yet the story is not told in a way that acutely accuses but rather exposes problems at the hope of making things better. These efforts of telling stories from this perspective helps
prime culture to be more inclusive of groups not typically given a strong voice in modern society.
Creating a better society through the aspects of film and entertainment while
understanding the influence it has on us is crucial. It is by this that we are able to contextualize our culture and normalize ideas toward gender equality in ways that may not have been possible in the past. Through a shared experience happening on movie screens, phones, tablets, and other medias we are can be entertained and enlightened at the hands of diverse female filmmakers like Ava Duvernay and others. It is by forward thinking individuals that we press on and continue the work that has been started. It is not the responsibility of women or men to push forward this progress. But rather it is the responsibility of us all to continue to bridge the gap to create a world where everyone has the opportunity to be successful.