Ava DuVernay took home the U.S. Directing Award gong in the Dramatic category at last nights Sundance Festival Awards.

DuVernay’s film Middle of Nowhere is about a happily married woman who then finds herself with an incarcerated husband. “[In film] we are used to seeing these visits, and the women leaving out the prison gate. The story returns to the men inside, but what happens to these women?” asks DuVernay.

“The epidemic of incarceration really effects black and brown communities.” explains DuVernay, who’d seen the struggles in her own community.

From the Sundance website:

‘What happens when love takes you places you never thought you would go? When her husband, Derek, is sentenced to eight years in a California prison, Ruby drops out of medical school to maintain her marriage and focus on ensuring Derek’s survival in his violent new environment’

This is of course great news for Ava, but also great news for the public to whom Ava has given the chance to get inside the stories of millions. When a loved one is locked up, wives, girlfriends, children, husbands, partners and family members are constantly working their own paths through concurrent but very different types of “sentence.”

For me the most joyous thing about this win is that this is a prison movie that doesn’t centre on an action packed break-out, or an unlikely lifelong flicker of hope, or the violence of prison gangs as “the other”. It’s non-sensational and human. Bravo Ava!



In addition to her latest feature film, Middle of Nowhere, Ava DuVernay’s directorial work includes the critically acclaimed dramatic feature I Will Follow, as well as the musical documentaries This Is the Life and My Mic Sounds Nice. The UCLA graduate is the founder of the African American Film Festival Releasing Movement, better known as AFFRM.