American Filmmaker Ava DuVernay Launches A Masterclass On Narrative Storytelling Featuring Haile Gerima

Haile Gerima editing his upcoming documentary “Children of Adwa.” (Eurweb)

Eur Web

*A legendary filmmaker is teaching a five day workshop!

Ava DuVernay’s Peabody Award-winning arts and social impact collective ARRAY announced their inaugural masterclass with celebrated Ethiopian filmmaker Haile Gerima. Applications are now being accepted until August 9 for the Los Angeles-based intensive workshop, being led by the legendary figure of the L.A. Rebellion film movement.

Liberated Territory: A Masterclass by Haile Gerima is a partnership between ARRAY and The Sankofa Film Academy divided into three parts: The Art and Craft of Screenplay, Cinematography, and Film Directing. Taking place at the ARRAY Creative Campus, the five-day workshop will explore the catalyst of storytelling and a story’s structure crafted from personal narrative accents. Participants will have an opportunity to dive into Gerima’s past notable work, including the ARRAY Releasing distributed title Ashes and Embers. Gerima is set to be honored by the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures with the inaugural Vantage Award as part of its opening gala in September 2021.

Applications are open to storytellers (experienced or emerging) working across all mediums, not just film. Artists who would like a deeper understanding of connecting their personal roots to narrative story development are encouraged to apply at arraynow.com/masterclass.

“Ava has always been a supporter of me and my work,” shared Gerima. “I come from a generation of filmmakers — independent filmmakers in the late 60s, early 70s – where making films about marginalized communities and people of color was not always accepted by mainstream audiences. It was important to Ava and ARRAY that this next generation of filmmakers get an opportunity to see my past work and to understand it. This Master Class is structured based on my personal practice, not only writing my own screenplays but also directing and editing my own films. Most of all, it demonstrates how editing my own films shaped my ideas of holistic filmmaking.”


Ava DuVernay (Photo: Diana King)

“Mr. Haile Gerima is the reason I was inspired to create my own film distribution company and he is, very simply, one of my heroes,” expressed DuVernay. “He disrupted the system long before anyone was willing to take notice and continues to chart his own path. Launching the ARRAY Masterclass program with Mr. Gerima is a surreal once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I can’t wait to watch him in action as he shares his filmmaking expertise with the next wave of disruptive filmmakers at our liberated territory, the ARRAY Creative Campus.”

“Sankofa, which is an Adinkra term for ‘going back to our past in order to go forward’ provides the best description of this full circle moment for me,” explained ARRAY Vice President of Public Programming, Mercedes Cooper. “I first visited Mr. Gerima’s legendary Sankofa Video and Bookstore in 1999 while I was a student at University of Maryland College Park. I am beyond words and honored to collaborate with master filmmaker Haile Gerima and visionary Ava DuVernay to develop ARRAY’s first masterclass.”

About Haile Gerima:

Haile Gerima is a fiercely independent filmmaker and leading member of the film movement known widely as L.A. Rebellion birthed in the late 1960s. Born and raised in Ethiopia, Gerima immigrated to the United States in 1967. Following in the footsteps of his father, a dramatist and playwright, Gerima entered UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television, where his exposure to Latin American films inspired him to mine his own cultural legacy.

After completing his thesis film, the acclaimed BUSH MAMA (1975), Gerima returned to Ethiopia to film HARVEST: 3000 YEARS (1976) which won the George Sadual critics award of at the Festival de Cannes, the Grand Prize at the Locarno Film Festival and was the Official Selection As Cannes Classic in 2007 in Festival de Cannes. When Gerima’s legendary epic SANKOFA (1993, nominated for the Golden Bear of the Berlin Film-festival) was ignored by U.S. distributors, he decidedly self-distributed the film by tapping into African-American communities, resulting in sold-out screenings in independent theaters around the country. In 2016 ARRAY re-released his classic ASHES & EMBERS (1982), winner of the FIPRESCI Prize at the 1983 Berlin International Film Festival.

In 1996, Gerima co-founded an independent film company for the production and distribution of films, which also houses the Sankofa Video and Bookstore, in Washington, D.C. Gerima continues to produce, distribute and promote his own films. He also lectures and conducts workshops in alternative screenwriting and directing both within the U.S. and internationally.

About ARRAY:

Founded in 2011 by filmmaker Ava DuVernay, ARRAY is a Peabody Award-winning multi-platform arts and social impact collective dedicated to narrative change. The organization catalyzes its work through a quartet of mission-driven entities: the film distribution arm ARRAY Releasing, the content company ARRAY Filmworks, the programming and production hub ARRAY Creative Campus and the non-profit group ARRAY Alliance.

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