Middle of Nowhere

Ava DuVernay and David Oyelowo for Selma

We’re huge fans of Selma here at Film School Rejects, in case you didn’t catch that we named it Movie of the Year. We also named its director, Ava DuVernay, Filmmaker of the Year. And while we didn’t choose its Martin Luther King Jr.-portraying star, David Oyelowo, as Performer of the Year, I don’t think he was too far behind Scarlett Johansson. He’s definitely my pick for best actor of 2014, an honor he sadly isn’t even nominated for at the Academy Awards, and someone whose further career I’m excited to follow. Especially now that one of his future projects reunites him with DuVernay again. The pair previously also collaborated on her award-winning 2013 Sundance sensation Middle of Nowhere. The Wrap reports that she will be directing a romantic drama of her own devise set amidst the events of Hurricane Katrina, and he’s set to produce and star.

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Middle of Nowhere

Ava DuVernay does not possess a romantic view of filmmaking or the film industry. The former publicist admits to never having considered filmmaking as a career growing up and did not make her first short film “until” her early 30s. In the ten years since, she’s helmed a bevy of projects including impressive and underrated dramatic indie features like Middle of Nowhere and I Will Follow, documentaries on subjects ranging from hip-hop to Venus Williams, numerous shorts, and even an episode of Scandal. And as the director of the magnificent Selma, she’s reached a level of recognition that’s rarely permitted to women filmmakers of color, even despite the Academy’s embarrassing Best Director snub. Selma has created a platform of renewed attention toward DuVernay’s earlier narrative features, recently made available on disc and streaming. These films together paint the picture of a confident, incisive, and elegant filmmaking style never satisfied to reside in any prescribed box that so often relegates the work of African American filmmakers. Listening to and reading DuVernay speak in interviews, it’s clear that filmmaking was never an inevitable path. Thus, none of her films are a missed opportunity. She works from deep understanding and insight as to what films have done with her subjects of interest before, and thereby pursues complex, underrepresented perspectives and stories as a result, from the wife of a convict to the on-the-ground strategies of a Civil Rights leader. So here is a bit of free film school (for fans and filmmakers alike) from FSR’s […]

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LAFF Middle of Nowhere

Editor’s note: With Sundance winner Middle of Nowhere hitting limited release, here is a re-run of our LAFF review, originally published on June 21, 2012. The concept of loneliness permeates director Ava DuVernay’s sophomore effort, Middle of Nowhere, as we watch Ruby (Emayatzy Corinealdi) struggle to move forward after her husband, Derek (Omari Hardwick), is given a eight year prison sentence. We open on Ruby and Derek during one of their weekly visitations, and the desperation to get through their situation plays all over Ruby’s face while Derek seems more hesitant to look too far into the future. Ruby is hanging on to the hope that with good behavior, Derek’s sentence will be reduced from eight years to five and she makes him repeat this mantra before she leaves. We learn that Ruby had been on track to go to medical school, but now with Derek locked up, she has decided to put it off in favor of being able to make her weekly visits (and the two hour, each way, bus ride to get there) and be home for his phone calls. It is clear that Derek does not want Ruby to put her life on hold for him, but stubborn and passionate Ruby will hear none of it. She has a plan and believes if they each keep their heads down, they will soon be together again and get their lives back on track. But can things ever go back to the way they were after eight potential […]

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Middle of Nowhere Movie 2012

In Middle of Nowhere, the forthcoming movie from writer/director Ava DuVernay, a young woman (Emayatzy Corinealdi) stalls her medical school career in order to focus on ensuring her jailed husband’s well-being. Unsurprisingly, life gets in the way and leads her toward self-exploration. DuVernay won Best Director at Sundance 2012 with the picture – a film that looks solidly like the kind of indie drama you’d find at a festival. There’s definitely an elegance to it, judging by the sweet solemnity of the trailer. Check it out yourself:

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LAFF 2012

Gird your loins, Los Angeles, the 2012 Los Angeles Film Festival is coming, and this time, the fest is bringing strippers with them. Lots and lots of (cinematic) strippers. The festival has already announced four titles, which include the North American Premiere of Woody Allen‘s To Rome With Love as the festival’s Opening Night Film, along with Gala screenings for Benh Zeitlin‘s Beasts of the Southern Wild, Lorene Scafaria‘s Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, and Ava DuVernay‘s Middle of Nowhere, but it’s high time LAFF unveiled their full slate. And what a slate! As announced today, the festival will close with the World Premiere of Steven Soderbergh‘s Magic Mike and will also feature the World Premiere of Alex Kurtzman‘s People Like Us. Other titles announced today of note include Sundance favorites The Queen of Versailles, Teddy Bear, The House I Live In, Celeste and Jesse Forever, Robot and Frank, and Searching for Sugar Man. Additional titles that pop out include Emmett Malloy’s Big Easy Express, Alejandro Brugués‘ Juan of the Dead, Adam Leon’s Gimme the Loot, and Joshua Sanchez’s Four. LAFF also runs a variety of special programs, including Community and Retro Screenings, a crammed slate of short films, and their trademark “Eclectic Mix” of music videos. After the break, you can check out the full line-up for this year’s Los Angeles Film Festival, along with synopses for all features and a full list of all shorts and music videos playing at the fest. LAFF runs from Thursday, June 14 to Sunday, June 24. Passes […]

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LAFF 2012

With the Tribeca Film Festival in full swing, it’s time that Los Angeles’ own Los Angeles Film Festival pipe in with still more of its lineup, all the better to get left-coasters pumped for their own festival. Earlier this month, LAFF announced that Woody Allen’s To Rome With Love will open the festival, and that announcement is now followed by the release of the first of three of the festival’s Gala titles. Those Galas will include Benh Zeitlin‘s Beasts of the Southern Wild, the World Premiere of Lorene Scafaria‘s Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, and Ava DuVernay‘s Middle of Nowhere. Beasts was considered the break-out hit of this year’s Sundance Film Festival, so its appearance at another large festival is not a surprise, but it sure is a pleasant announcement for Los Angeles (the film was recently picked to play in the Un Certain Regard section at Cannes). The film also made it on to our Most Anticipated Movies of the Summer list, as it will open on June 29. You can check out Kevin’s review of the film from Sundance, if you’re into that sort of thing.

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published: 01.31.2015
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published: 01.30.2015
published: 01.30.2015
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published: 01.29.2015
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