Ava DuVernay’s Origin is a globe-trotting exploration of racism


You okay if you look closely you’ll find something tragic was happening this is from the trailer for the film origin which arrives in Toronto theaters today a movie that explores racism discrimination hate and loss Through The Eyes of author Isabelle Wilkerson she wrote the book on which

This film is based the debut in theater’s already shaking things up for awards season so we’ll bring the two of those together cuz Eli is here for his Friday film review and great to see you on all of this Ava duver the director of all of this you’re going to tell us

About her for anyone who isn’t familiar with her work because you actually interviewed her and talked about this film origin had a wonderful conversation when she was here to present the film and she is like a phenomenon like in Hollywood certainly one of the most successful blackw workking directors

Today in Hollywood she’s an activist she is a producer she is a director she is best Pals with oer Winfrey she is just kind of a rabble Rouser but when I sat down to chat with her I I wondered like did you always know that you were going

To be behind the camera did you always know this was your life and she she had a sense but as a little girl growing up in Compton Los Angeles there was something missing take a look now I was talked to my friend JJ Abrams or Mr Spielberg and at that age they had

Cameras so they were telling their stories with cameras but I didn’t have cameras I didn’t even think about that I told my stories with Barbies that’s why it’s so meaningful that I have a Barbie in my likeness because my sisters and I would make full dayong stories where my

Mother would have to say stop stop playing the Barbies dialogue little houses they were living life she was a filmmaker but she was working in plastic I love that and if you heard that she has now a doll of her own I mean what a full circle moment there is an Ava duber

Barbie doll which was part of the line of shirro of like inspiring women that they made into dolls because why is a du inspiring because she’s Oscar nominated with her amazing film Selma she broke box office records with a wrinkle in time so she’s done all these things but

Then couple years ago she reads this book the one that you mentioned cast at the origin of her discontent from Isabelle wikinson and there it is and this is a book that connects dots between what happened in the American South in the 1930s what happened in

Germany in the 194s and even in India and as you can tell it made an impact that was a mindblower for me and I wanted more people to know about that how are we connected to Nazi Germany how are we connected to the cast system in India and other systems where folks are

Put on a scale of human dignity and how does that fit into what we’re experiencing right now so du knows she wants to do something with this but what like it’s such a giant issue right how do you put your arms around it and she’s talking with Wilkerson on Zoom getting

To know this woman getting to know her life and this is where she has this really interesting idea make Isabelle the character in the film as she’s going on this journey as she’s teasing out the implications of this thesis and that’s how this feature film version of origin

Is born which touches on as you said all of this I mean the global scope of the issues of racism and discrimination so sweeping how does you know where do you even start Trayvon Martin so we go back to 2012 this young black man just trying

To get home stopped and shot by George Zimmerman and so in the film we see there’s a magazine publisher and he wants Isabelle wikinson to dig into this he gives her the 911 calls to listen to alenia Ellis Taylor remarkable actor she plays Isabelle you see her there and as

You’ll see shortly she has a lot of questions after listening to those tapes like why does a latino man deputize himself to stalk a black boy to protect an all-white Community what is that the racist bi I want you to explore excavate for the readers be called Everything racism what

Does it even mean anymore it’s the default and I think this is why that book resonated so strongly with du because you look at Wilkerson you look at du both of them have spent much of their life investigating the consequences of racism and it’s not enough now just to say it’s racism they

Want more they want answers they want where does this Behavior where do these patterns come from they’re looking at India they’re looking at Germany they’re looking at parts of History so that is part of the film and we follow Isabelle as she goes Globe trotting talking to experts going going into libraries going

To Berlin pulling back the pages of history but there’s another part of this film okay and that is what’s happening with Isabelle herself that is about the story of meeting this handsome man who walked across the street one day his name is Brett he becomes her husband

Played by John barthal that is about what’s happening with her mother who is aging and so there’s this whole personal Dimension to the film take a look it’s Brett how yeah I know most relationships end friendships romances they break you okay she is not okay and so as

She’s circumventing the globe as she’s teasing out what she calls the pillars of this thesis trying to get her arms around this massive issue she is also navigating the landscape of her loss and that is what makes this unlike anything I’ve have ever seen really oh it’s heavy

It seems like cuz she weaves all of this together and then the personal is well does it work you see unlike anything you’ve seen it shouldn’t I mean I think as someone who’s seen so many things that’s what is so exciting for me is that AA duven has taken everything she’s

Made the adventure films the historic films the documentaries and put all those tools that she had in her toolbox into this movie and I think everything led up to this movie which she shot in three countries in 37 days working on an independent budget and the through line

Because it is so massive it is so macro the micro is wilkerson’s own struggle not writing the book but carrying her burden working through her grief and I think what du realized in making this is that the consequences of racism the consequences of these systems like the

Cast system in India you see that man there who’s one of the dallot The Untouchables if we don’t acknowledge that it’s like we’re not acknowledging a death and so there she is as Isabelle is struggling with her own grief her own loss it becomes this conduit which matches this investigation that she’s

Mounting and it’s not like a dry academic dissertation it’s these remark ably powerful portraits it’s a young little black boy told to sit outside the swimming pool because if he touches the water they say it will be polluted it’s a German uh and Jewish couple running

For their lives in Nazi Germany it’s her at a family cookout with a plate of barbecue trying to explain to her sister the cast system in India it’s all of those things and more and that’s why I think this is just the most remarkable thing du has has ever made and why

Perhaps it’s generating Buzz for the Oscar nominations we’re going to get next week let’s take a quick pause and see what you decided in terms of uh the star number here yeah a five I I I think it’s it’s a Monumental achievement I think it’s the

Best thing she’s ever done and I really hope it does shake up the awards season conversation

Part personal tale of grief, part academic exploration of race and discrimination, Ava DuVernay’s Origin is a ‘monumental achievement’ and her best film yet, says the CBC’s Eli Glasner.

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