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‘A Wrinkle in Time’ director Ava DuVernay picks 3 must-see movies by black directors

“A Wrinkle In Time,” a highly anticipated film adaptation of Madeleine L’Engle’s beloved novel, opens today under director Ava DuVernay’s stewardship.

DuVernay cast 14-year-old Storm Reid as the young heroine Meg Murry, along with well-known stars Oprah Winfrey, Mindy Kaling and Reese Witherspoon. This 2018 reboot of “A Wrinkle In Time” has been hailed for its diversity in casting, in contrast to the original children’s fantasy book.

“There’s Caucasian kids, there’s African-American kids, biracial kids, Filipino kids, there’s Latino people in the film, Southeast Asian people in the film, and I’m proud of that,” DuVernay told PBS NewsHour correspondent Jeffrey Brown in a recent interview.

For DuVernay, it’s the same characters, “same heartbeat of the characters, same blood running through Meg’s veins, except her skin is a different color. The story is the same story, it’s just told with actors of a different hue.”

DuVernay, the first woman of color to direct a $100 million film, was also the first African-American to win Best Director at the Sundance Film Festival in 2012. Previously she directed the Oscar-nominated films “Selma” in 2015 and “13th” in 2016.

Friday on the NewsHour, we’ll profile the new film and its acclaimed director. For now, we also asked DuVernay for her recommendations for movies by black directors. She shared three who many movie-goers may not have previously heard of, all of which come “from a cadre of filmmakers known as the L.A. Rebellion,” who had all attended UCLA from the late ’60s to late ’80s. “And they made these vibrant, really, really glorious films during a certain era,” she said.

Here are her picks:

1. “Daughters of the Dust” by Julie Dash (1991)

It’s a story that takes place in the Gullah islands here in the United States. It’s a beautiful collision of femininity and family and history. It’s gorgeous.

2. “Ashes and Embers” by Haile Gerima (1982)

Gerima is an Ethiopian filmmaker who came to the United States and went to film school at UCLA, and now is a professor at Howard University, and runs the film program there. “Ashes and Embers” is about a Vietnam vet coming home to a country that doesn’t honor his sacrifice and finds himself jobless and kind of rootless, and has to find his way back.

3. “Killer of Sheep” by Charles Burnett (1978)

Burnett was just given an honorary Oscar a few months ago by the Academy for his body of work. In black and white, the textures are beautiful, but it’s also a gorgeous love story about a very poor man and his wife as they raise their kids in South Central Los Angeles. And it’s one of my favorites.

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