A Conversation with Ava DuVernay: Resistance, Storytelling, and Film

Join us for a conversation between Oscar-nominated filmmaker and screenwriter Ava DuVernay and Professor Khalil Gibran Muhammad

In-Person Event

JFK Jr Forum, Harvard Kennedy School
7:00 pm – 8:00 pm EDT

Register here *For individuals with a Harvard ID only

You’re invited to a conversation between Oscar-nominated filmmaker and screenwriter Ava DuVernay and Professor Khalil Gibran Muhammad on April 24 at 7:00-8:00PM ET at the Harvard Kennedy School.

DuVernay’s latest film ‘Origin’ is a powerful adaptation of Isabel Wilkerson’s book ‘Caste’, taking a broad look at underlying systems of social hierarchies. It draws connections between race in the United States, the persecution of Jews in Nazi Germany, and the system of caste in India.

By translating these true stories to screen, ‘Origin’ fosters a crucial dialogue on the American understanding of race. In stark contrast with most Hollywood pictures, there is no singular antagonist in DuVernay’s screenplay; rather, everyone — in everyday ways — is upholding the system of racism in the U.S.

At this event hosted by the Institutional Antiracism and Accountability Project (IARA) and the Institute of Politics, we will explore the relationship between film and advancing racial equity, asking: how is film an effective platform for shaping an informed and critical public narrative about race in the U.S.? And for the filmmakers attempting to do this, what barriers are standing in the way?

About the Film

Written and directed by Academy Award nominee Ava DuVernay, ORIGIN chronicles the tragedy and triumph of Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Isabel Wilkerson as she investigates a global phenomenon of epic proportions. Portrayed by Academy Award nominee Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor (“King Richard”), Isabel experiences unfathomable personal loss and love as she crosses continents and cultures to craft one of the defining American books of our time. Inspired by the New York Times best-seller “Caste,” ORIGIN explores the mystery of history, the wonders of romance and a fight for the future of us all.

About the Speakers

Academy Award nominee and winner of the Emmy, BAFTA, Image, Sundance and Peabody Awards, Ava DuVernay’s directorial work includes the historical drama Selma, the criminal justice documentary 13th, the acclaimed four-part limited series When They See Us, Disney’s A Wrinkle in Time, her landmark seven season television series Queen Sugar and her latest film, Origin, among others.

DuVernay amplifies the independent work of people of color and women of all kinds through her non-profit narrative change collective, ARRAY. She sits on the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Board of Governors, representing the directors branch in her second term.

Khalil Gibran Muhammad is the Ford Foundation Professor of History, Race and Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School. He directs the Institutional Antiracism and Accountability Project and is the former Director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, a division of the New York Public Library and the world’s leading library and archive of global black history.

How to Join

Harvard ID holders are invited to attend in-person at the Harvard Kennedy School. Details on the specific location will be in the confirmation email.

Stream the panel discussion for free via the Institute of Politics’ YouTube.