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Tribeca Film Institute’s Inaugural Heineken Affinity Award Goes To Ava DuVernay ($20,000 + Industry Support)

Tribeca Film Institute's Inaugural Heineken Affinity Award Goes To Ava DuVernay ($20,000 + Industry Support)

This just came in, via press release from the Tribeca Film Institute:



One African-American Filmmaker Receives $20,000 Prize And Industry Support for Future Projects

[New York, NY – April 20, 2013] – Today, Heineken USA, the world’s leading international brewer, and the Tribeca Film Institute® (TFI) announced the winner of the inaugural Heineken Affinity Award. The award, given to an African-American filmmaker (age 21 and over) to empower and encourage them to continue to craft stories through film, was awarded to Ava DuVernay.  In addition to a $20,000 cash prize awarded at an event tonight, DuVernay will receive year round support and professional development from TFI for her future projects.

DuVernay, of Los Angeles, won the Best Director Award at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival for her second feature film, Middle of Nowhere.  A writer, director and distributor of independent film, her directorial work also includes the critically-acclaimed dramatic feature I Will Follow, as well as the music documentaries This is the Life and My Mic Sounds Nice.  Her upcoming project Part of the Sky, is currently in development.  She is also the founder of the African-American Film Festival Releasing Movement (AFFRM).  DuVernay was chosen as the winner by public vote on a website dedicated to the Heineken Affinity Award.  Hundreds of thousands of visitors cast their votes from January 15 to March 31, 2013.                                                

“We could not be more pleased to name such a talented and dedicated filmmaker as the winner of the first ever Heineken Affinity Award,” said Pattie Falch, Brand Director, Sponsorships and Events. “Heineken offers exceptional and unique experiences to our consumers and Ava does the same with her creative vision.  We know she will go far with the funding and support we are able to provide along with the Tribeca Film Institute.”

The filmmakers were nominated for the award by a survey of industry executives.  From the list of submissions, Heineken and TFI invited ten finalists to apply for the award based on their prior work and the amount they’ll benefit from extra exposure and resources. Submissions were reviewed on how well they fulfilled the mission of the Tribeca Film Institute, the quality and strength of the proposal, the potential for international and US distribution, as well as the filmmakers’ previous body of work.

In addition to DuVernay, the finalists were Andrew Dosunmu, Cheryl Dunye, Nelson George, Kahlil Joseph, Victoria Mahoney, Terence Nance, Akosua Adoma Owuso, Yvonne Welbon, and Ross Williams. Each of the filmmakers will receive a $1,000 grant.

“Our partnership with Heineken on the Affinity Award allows TFI to broaden our support of working filmmakers from communities that are underrepresented in the film industry,” said Beth Janson, Executive Director, TFI. “We were excited to see such an incredible range of talent and diverse voices in this inaugural group of filmmakers. We look forward to supporting many more artists in the years to come and we thank Heineken for their dedication to the field.”

For more information about the Heineken Affinity Award please visit, or follow Heineken on Twitter at @Heineken_US.

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I'm glad for her. A nice woman in person, talented director, community oriented person. It's too bad the 2 or 3 people on this messageboard are making so much noise against. For what? Yea she's popular. She's an indie artist who happens to be popular. Isn't that what we want? She's someone making a platform not just for herself but for others like her. Why is that so bad and causing such vitriol from the 2 or 3 who cluck against it? I would have never heard of Storm Saulter or Andrew if not due to her tweets and Facebooks about them and getting them to my attention. I sure wouldn't have seen their movies if she hadn't had them out in theaters. She's barely out herself but she uses her social media to lift up others all the time. If you follow her, you see her always talking about Terence Nance and others, recommending films and artists and just being a race woman and lifting other artists up. Why is that bad? And although she'd be justified if she put the money in her own pocket like every one else planned to do, she's donating it to AFFRM to put out Neil Drumming's joint. Why is that drawing so much venom? I don't get your arguments. I don't get why you seem mad because something good is happening to someone from this black movie community. Some people have to pull others down to make themselves feel bigger. You even slash people on here trying to make opposing points. Crabs in a barrel.


The haters on here are burying the thousands who voted for her and the thousands more who support AFFRM and her personal films. Yes, it's sad: but expected. As Einstein said, "Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds." Keep going, Ava. Leave these knick knacks in your dust.

Albert Einstein


Dear @VET, please take your own advice and DO BETTER. If you want to have a positive debate or discourse, I'm cool with that but I'm not down with nasty insults. Believe it or not, you actually underscore my point. If you think Ava's road has been and/or is difficult, where does that leave the other talented directors? If you said S.O.L (shit outta luck) you would be correct. What you have to remember is, at least she's on the radar…especially regarding the indie scene. Mainstream is a WHOLE different game but let's not kid ourselves either…The "average" film goer, black or white, can barely name a few directors outside of Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Spike Lee and whatever the "flavor of the month" is. Also, you stated you're not an "Ava stan," well I AM and I had no problem stating the obvious. For you to take it as an insult is completely ridiculous. I would suggest that you, and anyone else who wants to throw rocks or venom towards me, should apply that same energy in supporting the countless, talented black directors–a good majority covered on this site–who don't have a cheering squad. They're not hard to locate…In case you're interested, they're the blog postings/articles/interviews with very few comments or facebook likes. The black film industry can only get better, and be respected, when MANY are recognized and not just one or two.

And @CC (Carey Carey)…Are we really using the "Oscars" to measure success? Hell, that club is more exclusive than the so-called Illuminati.

Dankwa Brooks

I agree with Taz's post that began with "TAZ | APRIL 21, 2013 11:54 AM
"………. ten winners will be selected for the Heineken Affinity Award, a new platform that celebrates emerging and established African-American filmmakers by creating further awareness and dialogue around their work. "

I have read several articles and books and the "politics of Hollywood" and if you think the major film awards, including the almighty Oscar, are not popularity contests you are sadly mistaken. It even goes to television. Does anybody want to be Matt Lauer right about now?

In the media you are only good as you are popular or known. Any popularity Ava may have had she had to get nominated in the first place.

Lastly I agree with~>DONNA | APRIL 21, 2013 8:13 AM
Tyler Perry, Spike Lee, and now Ava DuVernay. 3 names that always seem to spark some kind of debate on this site. Y'all crack me up with your comments. Congratulations Ava, you've officially made it Lol!


I voted for Ms. DuVernay!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Whether Ms.Duvernay needs the money or not, what's seems lost in this is the analysis of her work. Aside from popularity does her work speak for itself? Based on her track record the answer seems to be yes. I agree with some of the arguments made but at the end of the day it's about the quality of work. It's not she like has no talent and won the award because she's connected. She is talented as are the other contestants.


Yay, yay, yay for Ms. Duvernay!


Congrats Ava! You're so deserving of this and so much more! Cheers!


Hey @TAZ, you missed this part…"The winners will use our website as a platform to promote their films, AND WITH THE PUBLIC'S HELP one out of the ten will receive a $20,000 cash award."

This contest was definitely partly based on popularity and that's not about "hating" or being "shady." I don't see it as a good or bad thing, it just is. I did feel sorry for some of the other contestants because they don't have a following or get the publicity yet. By the way, I am a big Affrm and Ava supporter but it's time some other folks get some shine. Seriously, who doesn't know of Ava by now? It's funny how soooo many folks love to vilify the "Hollywood mainstream" film system regarding the cliques and opportunities, yet those very folks are exhibiting the same behavior they detest.


Yeah Ava! Congrats to her, AFFRM, and her journey as a filmmaker. So glad she won! Cheers!


"………. ten winners will be selected for the Heineken Affinity Award, a new platform that celebrates emerging and established African-American filmmakers by creating further awareness and dialogue around their work.

Heineken and TFI will survey a wide range of industry executives to nominate an African-American filmmaker who exhibits great creative potential and will benefit from extra exposure and resources for their next creative project. Based on the nominations, we'll invite filmmakers over the age of 21 to apply for the award.

Submissions will be judged on how well it fulfills the mission of TFI, the quality and strength of the proposal, the potential for international and US distribution, as well as the filmmakers’ previous body of work."

Congrats to all who were selected to apply – as this denotes their work has been recognized – and those who received awards of any kind. We celebrate your success and celebrate what is to come!

Anything beyond doing this is shading at best, hating at worst. Any argument that any entrant should have lost because of a, b, c or d has issues.

That's my half penny worth to this convo.


@NADIA and @LAURA Tough one to say this was done without some form of bias, Ava did the tour, she took her film all around and was immersed in the LA SCENE deeply, she was well known much more than the other filmmakers and was popular among the taste makers in Hollywood. That’s what she was supposed to do. She is a filmmaker in the new landscape. She is also building a huge apparatus (AFFRM) which is unprecedented. We all need distribution and film project shepherding so don’t think that was not lost on those who vote. I know a lot of the other filmmakers could also have used the money and publicity. I would have been only happy if a woman got the award and money though. But I would have liked to have seen the gentleman who did Gun Hill Road get in the final voting also. Ava is very articulate so all those check marks in the plus column helps. If it is true that this was popularity contests then I hope Ava takes that money and picks up a few more films to distribute and helps develop some unknown filmmakers. What I truly would like also is to see Ava do bigger budget with a lot more moving set pieces and some small action scenes so she won’t be put in the category of doing only films that are MUMBLE CORE!- check out this article I think it fits what Ava has done with her films and what we all must do


Congrats to Ava and AFFRM! She is such a remarkable artist and visionary. Her win was well deserved.


Tyler Perry, Spike Lee, and now Ava DuVernay. 3 names that always seem to spark some kind of debate on this site. Y'all crack me up with your comments. Congratulations Ava, you've officially made it Lol!


Ava is way too talented for films not to be shown nation wide. Congratulations to her.


well said Damone. Ava is constantly distributing films for us and by us. and FYI to Nadia, The race was close, Ava, Victoria, and someone else was in the running. Ava didn't lead the whole time


It's a popularity contest. She's a lot more popular than the other directors who were up for the award and so of course she was able to get more people to vote for her. One of the lesser known filmmakers should have won it because they really could use the shine much more than she needs it because she's already well known and on her way. Not hating, just saying. Give someone else a leg up.


Watching someone live their dreams and get the acknowledgement for it is so satisfying. Very excited to see what's next from Ms. DuVernay!

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