10 September 2015
The South African film, Ayanda and the Mechanic, is one of two acquisitions announced for Ava DuVernay’s African-American Film Festival Releasing Movement.
Along with Out of My Hand, the South African film was chosen by the group following its screening at the Los Angeles Film Festival. Ayanda and the Mechanic won the Special Jury Prize in the World Fiction Competition at that festival.
The new releases were an initiative to broaden the focus of the organisation and highlight the work of Latino, Asian, Native American, Middle Eastern and female filmmakers, the group said.
It was founded by DuVernay in 2010 through a collaboration with key black film festivals and arts organisations. The American director, screenwriter, film marketer, and film distributor, was the writer and director of Selma (2014), the acclaimed biopic of Dr Martin Luther King Jr. DuVernay is the first female African American director to have a film nominated for the Oscar for Best Picture.
Renamed Array on 8 September, the group will continue to release and champion movies by black filmmakers from the African diaspora, as well as those by women and other filmmakers of colour.
Tilane Jones, the group’s executive director, told TheWrap that both these films were terrific. They reflected Array’s broadened scope.
Actress Terry Pheto, the co-producer of Ayanda and the Mechanic, said DuVernay had long been a promoter and distributor of black independent films, reported South African newspaper The Citizen. “DuVernay herself recognises this and is proving to be a force to help bring about needed change,’ she said.
“She is not only a savvy film marketer and acclaimed director, but also a black woman entrepreneur who is deeply committed to increasing the representation of black people on the big screen.’
Pheto played a leading role as Miriam in the 2005 Oscar-winning feature film Tsotsi.
— Terry Pheto (@TerryPheto) September 9, 2015
Ayanda, the latest film by award-winning director Sara Blecher, is a tale of love, friendship and growth in contemporary South Africa. It opens in local cinemas on 2 October, and is set for release in the US in mid-November.
The film has also been screened at prestigious film events such as the Cannes Film Festival.