What’s happening Music Movie Lovers! If you happen to live in my local area, one possible response might be “this dreary Monday, that’s what!” The sun did not shine much today here in Philly, but no worries it hasn’t dampened my spirit. And, oh how excited I am to encourage everyone to go out this weekend and support Ava DuVernay’s 2nd directorial feature film Middle Of Nowhere; which is opening in select theaters on October 12th (go to http://www.affrm.com/middle-of-nowhere/ to find theaters near you). In case you haven’t heard, Ms. DuVernay won this year’s Best Director award at the Sundance Film Festival, and was the first African-American woman to achieve this feat. You can also check out the overwhelming press response for Middle Of Nowhere at the following: http://www.affrm.com/news-middle-of-nowhere/. And I’m sure many of you watched BET last Friday and Saturday for the Making Of special and the TV début of I Will Follow respectively, right? Alright, you saw Ms. DuVernay’s Don Lemon interview? Her appearance on Don’t Sleep? Well, in addition to reading this post, you can catch up tonight by checking out Ava DuVernay’s interview with Tavis Smiley (check your local listings for showtimes).
So, Middle Of Nowhere chronicles the story of Ruby Sexton (Emayatzy Corinealdi in her début big screen performance) as a woman fighting to maintain her identity, while supporting a husband who is serving an 8 year prison sentence. As mentioned earlier, this is the second feature directed (and written) by Ava DuVernay, the first film being the critically acclaimed drama I Will Follow. Another thing both films have in common is the incredibly talented (and did I mention fine?) Omari Hardwick (Sparkle, For Colored Girls), who plays Ruby’s husband Derek. Also co-starring in this film is the brilliant David Oyelowo (Red Tails, The Help) and the remarkable veteran actress Lorraine Toussaint (Any Day Now, The Soloist) who plays Ruby’s “no holds barred” mother Ruth.
I recently had the pleasure of joining a round-table discussion (see photo on right courtesy of Sharvon P. Urbannavage), hosted by Reelblack Presents and PhillyCAM, with both Ava DuVernay and lead actress Emayatzy Corinealdi, who were in Philly promoting the film. During the conversation, Ava described how she setup a private screening of the film for Emayatzy and Omari’s first viewing. David Oyelowo chose to view the film with an audience at Sundance. When I asked her how it was to see herself on-screen in her first feature-length film, Ms. Corinealdi said it was overwhelming at first, because when she was filming it is was just her and the other actors, but fun to finally see how it all came together. And the coming together made for quite a story, as Ava described the editing process (which took 14 weeks) as being her favorite. She stated that being able to look at all the shots and piece together the parts that end up in the final version is like retelling the story again, a process she very much enjoys.
When I asked Emayatzy what attracted her most to the Middle Of Nowhere script, she explained that she’d never seen this kind of story told and personally knew others that had similar experiences (significant others in prison) to her character Ruby. She also was excited about coming across a lead role, written for a woman, that displayed what she termed a “full and complete journey,” which she states doesn’t happen a lot.
Okay, so sidebar ladies. Now, I was going to use you as an excuse to ask both Ava and Emayatzy about working with Omari Hardwick (wasn’t he just dreamy as Levi in Sparkle?); but I had to tell the truth, shame the devil, and confess that the question was for me! Emayatzy described both Omari Hardwick and David Oyelowo as gentlemen, and said having both of them flanked on her side as co-stars was sort of like “you can’t tell me nothing!” (and she drew laughs around the room with that one 🙂 ). Ava described him as a great actor, who balanced bringing both strength and vulnerability to the Derek character, which she said is not an easy feat to accomplish.
I did not get a chance to see Middle Of Nowhere in its entirety, but I did get to see an approximately 20 minute preview and I am positive that this is a must see. The reviews are not just hype; as I was drawn in so deep by the end of that 20 minutes that it was hard to accept I wouldn’t immediately see more. I cannot stress enough Music Movie Lovers how important it is to not only support independent film, but to make sure you attend the Friday or Saturday showings on opening weekend. Those opening box office numbers speak volumes. If you are one of the persons who complain about not seeing enough positive characters/stories on the big screen, especially characters that are persons of color, then make your voice heard with your purchasing power this weekend. So, let’s get to it people! Middle Of Nowhere is opening this Friday, October 12th. Again, you can go to http://www.affrm.com/middle-of-nowhere/ to find out where it is playing near you and purchase tickets. I know I’m excited and I can’t wait to hear what everyone thinks about the film, so stop back by and leave a thought or two ;).
Until next thought family, Thomasena
PS – for those who didn’t catch I Will Follow on BET, or don’t have BET, if you’re a Netflix subscriber you can find it! 🙂