"Selma" director Ava DuVernay will be honored at the Toronto International Film Festival's Ebert Tribute luncheon on Sunday, September 13th. Last year marked the first installment of this annual event, with Martin Scorsese taking home the Golden Thumb. Both Scorsese and DuVernay had their work championed by the late film critic Roger Ebert, who saw the greatness in their work long before the rest of the world did, and both directors have also been championed by TIFF, which is celebrating its 40 anniversary this year. On Sunday, Ms. DuVernay will receive a Golden Thumb presented by Festival Artistic Director Cameron Bailey and Ebert's widow, Chaz Ebert, publisher of RogerEbert.com.
DuVernay's first narrative feature, the 2010 drama, "I Will Follow," was hailed by Ebert as "one of the best films I've seen about the loss of a loved one." She followed that film with 2012's "Middle of Nowhere," featuring David Oyelowo. The picture earned DuVernay the Best Director prize at the Sundance Film Festival. She re-teamed with Oyelowo for last year's acclaimed Martin Luther King, Jr. biopic, "Selma," which scored a Best Picture nomination, though it was widely believed that DuVernay was snubbed in the Best Director category.
Among her numerous other achievements is her highly praised 2008 directorial debut, the hip-hop documentary, "This is the Life," several network documentaries including ESPN's "Venus Vs.", a 2013 sweeps episode of ABC's "Scandal," and many beauty films for Fashion Fair and Prada.
Her 14 years of experience as a marketer and publicist, strategizing and executing the film campaigns for directors including Steven Spielberg and Clint Eastwood, has given DuVernay an uncommonly candid perspective of the industry. The Los Angeles-based director is also the founder of Array, a community-based distribution collective dedicated to the amplification of films by women and people of color. She is a member of both the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, as well as a graduate of UCLA. She sits on the boards of Film Independent and the Sundance Institute.