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Inaugural Shadow And Act Annual Black Cinema Toasts! 2011 Honorees #1 – Ava DuVernay & AFFRM

Inaugural Shadow And Act Annual Black Cinema Toasts! 2011 Honorees #1 - Ava DuVernay & AFFRM

Starting today, and each WEEK day for the rest of the year, I’ll highlight, or, as I prefer, propose toasts to all the brave, passionate black men, women and institutions in this ruthless, monocratic industry we cover here on S&A, who were, as the late Steve Jobs put it in that famous ad for Apple, the crazy ones.

Appropriating the quote from the commercial for my own use: Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… 

Yes, those people :)

And you simply cannot have a conversation about the state of what we call *black cinema* in 2011 without including one Ms Ava DuVernay and AFFRM in that discussion. I’m sure you’ve heard of both by now, regardless of how you feel about either, almost a year after the launch of the African American Film Festival Release Movement, otherwise known as AFFRM – a groundbreaking, grassroots effort to get black films in theaters, in front of audiences that may otherwise never see these films; an initiative spearheaded by Ava, in collaboration with several of the nation’s top black film festivals (the inaugural group of backers included the Urbanworld Film Festival in New York, the Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles, the ReelBlack Film Series in Philadelphia, the BronzeLens Film Festival in Atlanta and the Langston Hughes African American Film Festival in Seattle). 

AFFRM is just the kind of progressive initiative that we’ve long championed here on Shadow And Act since the site was created in April 2009, and we’ve continued to be strong supporters of the organization’s cause, because it’s an important one! Its success is our success.

Of course, the movement and the person most associated with it, have both had their detractors; that’s to be expected. But the respect that’s been afforded both, trumps any resistance to the movement. The work speaks for itself, to use the old cliche. 

In a time when discussions about the weakened state of black cinema are often distressingly repetitious, with lots of finger-pointing, and usually centered around the question of what to do to bring about change, here’s someone who moved the conversation beyond just having the conversation, and actually DID something. A rarity, in my not-so humble opinion, and she, as well as the film festival heads who bought into her solution, and the myriad of men and women who work behind the scenes, helping to keep the ship afloat, should be toasted for their efforts.

A risk was taken by all involved; and as is the case with all risk, reward isn’t always certain, and there is almost always someone waiting to watch you fail. But at least, you took the risk.

And sometimes risk IS rewarded; occasionally, the reward is far beyond what those who took the risk expected; and I (and I’m sure countless others) certainly hope the movement continues to grow, as more of us become increasingly aware of and support AFFRM, and that it’s able to position itself as a veritable challenge to the industry status quo.

Cheers to Ava DuVernay and AFFRM, and prosperity!

I’ll be back on Monday morning for the second Shadow And Act 2011 toast proposal. Hmm… I wonder who’s next… :)

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that AFFRM’s second release, Kinyarwanda, opens in Denver, Colorado today, at the Denver Film Society on East Colfax. It’ll be there for 1 week, through next week Thursday, so here’s your chance to see it.

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