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Interview: Ava DuVernay discusses “Middle of Nowhere”

Oprah Winfrey loves the movie “Middle of Nowhere.” It was showered with praise at the Sundance Film Festival, where it won the best director award for 2012. And it opens Friday in Atlanta.

“It’s been really beautiful,” director Ava DuVernay, the first black woman to ever win best director honors at Sundance. “The film is just this little jewel.”

Starring Omari Hardwick, David Oyelowo and Emayatzy Corinealdi, “Middle of Nowhere” is a powerful drama about confinement – literal and figurative. A medical student drops out of school when her husband goes to prison. The intimate camera work suggests that the prisoner is not the only one who seems trapped in a cell.

“I’m really interested in showing nuance,” DuVernay said. “I’m not seeing enough images of women deep in thought.

We’re trying to make something that sticks to your bones. Films are constructed by real moments. We are making this for this reason, to evoke feeling.”

AP photo

AP photo

DuVernay and her team had no huge budget for the movie.

“We had very little money. We shot this in 19 days,” she said.

But that did not keep her from producing a masterpiece – just ask Oprah.

“Saw your movie (Middle of Nowhere),” she tweeted. “Excellent job especially with no money. Bravo to you my sistah.”

DuVernay got into the business first as a film publicist, then stepped behind the camera, releasing “This Is the Life” and then “I Will Follow.” Although “Beasts of the Southern Wild” was a formidable competitor, “Middle of Nowhere” took Sundance best director honors, catapulting DuVernay into the spotlight.

“It was a beautiful moment. I felt an avalanche of overwhelming joy,” she said.

She visited Spelman College during a recent trip to Atlanta promoting the film, and we asked (hopefully) when she will be shooting a movie in Atlanta. Answer: we’ll see!

For now DuVernay is heartened by the response to “Middle of Nowhere.”

“I get asked a lot what do you want people to feel at the end,” she said. “I don’t care what they feel, as long as they feel something.”

One comment Add your comment

Fred ™

October 15th, 2012
8:54 am

Oh goody, the Oprah stamp of approval. I know it’s what I ALWAYS look for in a book or a movie……….