Filmmaker Ava DuVernay was commissioned by the Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History and Culture (NMAAHC) to create a work of art for the institution that would be a long-term installation on a continuous loop in the museum.

DuVernay explains that she decided to focus on the date of August 28th, to tell the story of black American history:

“I chose to focus on a date that has fascinated me for years. Today. Aug. 28. The date that Emmett Till was murdered in one year. Which is the same date that the March on Washington and “I Have A Dream” occurred in another year. Which is the same date that Katrina made landfall in yet another year. Which is the same date that Sen. Barack Obama accepted the Democratic nomination for POTUS in yet another year. Which is today this year. In my eyes, Aug. 28 tells so much about Black history through the lens of one date. The Smithsonian let me tell this story. And many friends helped. With a Black producing team, cinematographer, camera team, electrical team, production designers, costume designer, composer, casting director, assistant directors and more (yes, there are that many African-Americans proficient in all capacities behind the camera), we made a film quietly over two weekends in early August. Our stellar cast is Don Cheadle, Lupita Nyong’o, David Oyelowo, Angela Bassett, Andre Holland, Regina King, Michael Ealy, Gugu Mbatha-Raw and the legend Glynn Turman. This is a museum exclusive. Debuting with the opening of the illustrious and important @NMAAHC in September! Honored to be a part of it. xo!”  – Ava DuVernay

This commissioning falls directly in line with DuVernay’s accomplishments in recent years.  In 2012, DuVernay became the first black woman to win the Best Director Prize at Sundance for her second feature film Middle of Nowhere. In 2014, she became the first black woman director to be nominated for a Golden Globe Award and the first black woman to receive an Oscar nomination for Best Picture, both attributed to her third feature film Selma.  Most recently, DuVernay helmed the upcoming OWN original series Queen Sugar alongside executive producer Oprah Winfrey where she broke barriers by working with an all-female directorial team.  The series will mark DuVernay’s television series directorial debut.  Her next project titled The 13th, a documentary on mass incarceration, will screen on October 7th at the 54th Annual New York Film Festival.

Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture will open on September 24th.

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About The Author

Founder, HBR Media

K. Nicole Mills is the Founder of HBR Media. She transitioned from Wall Street to television and film development, and has worked at NBCUniversal, Universal Pictures, and Showtime Networks. She currently develops digital programming for premium networks. Reach out anytime! info@hbrmedia.org

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