La La Land (2016)

Directed by Damien Chazelle

Cinematography by Linus Sandgren


Celebrate black history month by watching the works of these 10 history-making directors

1 to 5:

Amma Asante 

Best Known For: Winning a BAFTA award for Best Debut Feature for A Way of Life, directing indie hit Belle 10 years later. 

Notable Works: Belle (2014)A United Kingdom (2016)

Forthcoming: Where Hands Touch (2017)

Ava DuVernay 

Best Known For: Being the first black woman to win Best Director at Sundance, the first black woman to be nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Director and being the first black woman to direct a movie nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars. 

Notable Works: Middle of Nowhere (2012), Selma (2014)

Forthcoming: A Wrinkle in Time (2018)

Julie Dash 

Best Known For: Being the first black American woman to have a feature length film be theatrically distributed in the U.S.

Notable Works: Daughters of the Dust (1991)

Forthcoming: Travel Notes of a Geechee Girl (2016)

Safi Faye 

Best Known For: This Senagalese woman became the first Sub-Saharan woman to have a film be commercially distributed in 1976. 

Notable Works: Letter From My Village (1976), Mossane (1996)

Forthcoming: N/A.

Kasi Lemmons 

Best Known For: With all four of her feature films released theatrically in the U.S. she currently holds the record as the black woman director with the most commercially distributed films. 

Notable Works: Eve’s Bayou (1997) 

Forthcoming: Agaat, On Beauty




Ava DuVernay.

Best Known For: Being the first Black woman to win Best Director at Sundance, the first black woman to be nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Director and being the first black woman to direct a movie nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars.

Notable Works: Middle of Nowhere, Selma, Queen Sugar, and 13th.

Forthcoming: A Wrinkle in Time.

Source/Credit: Riya Jama


Please tell them… tell them I love what I do, and I’m really good at it. And I’m dying for something big, and beautiful, and greater than me. Tell them I said I can live with that. And tell them, thank you for being my mom and dad.

The Martian (2015)


Moonlight (2016)

Directed by Barry Jenkins

Cinematography by James Laxton

Ava DuVernay b. August 24, 1972

DuVernay is an American filmmaker and distributor. 

She graduated from UCLA with a double major in English literature and Africa-American studies. After graduation DuVernay began to work as a publicist for movies, eventually creating her own successful publicity firm. From 1999 to 2011 she is credited as doing publicity work on nearly 100 films and TV shows. While doing the work DuVernay developed a desire to become a filmmaker in her own right.  

In 2006 she directed her first short film Saturday Night Life. She followed this up with several short documentaries. In 2010 she made her feature film debut with the film I Will Follow which she entirely self-funded using $50,000 of her own money. Unable to find a distributor willing to release the film theatrically she created the African-American Film Festival Releasing Movement (AFFRM) and distributed the film herself.

By 2012 DuVernay made her second film Middle of Nowhere. With the film DuVernay achieved a long-standing goal to have her work shown at the Sundance Film Festival. Not only was it screened in the U.S. dramatic competition category but DuVernay also won the Best Director award making her the first African-American woman to win that category. 

Despite the festival success of Middle of Nowhere no distributors were willing to give the movie a theatrical release. DuVernay again released her film via AFFRM. She was offered work directing TV and commercials, but no movie offers came her way. In 2013 however David Oyelowo, who had starred in Middle of Nowhere, was attached to the movie Selma which had recently lost director Lee Daniels who wanted more money to make the film. Oyelowo asked the producers to consider hiring DuVernay which they did as she was willing to make the film for a budget of $20 million, re-write the script with no credit and the limitation that none of Martin Luther King jr’s speeches could actually be used. 

Selma was DuVernay’s first film with a studio distributor, an awards campaign, and a wide release. She became the first black woman nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Director and the first black woman to direct a Best Picture nominee at the Oscars. 

In 2015 DuVernay, who had kept AFFRM open and continued to give theatrical distribution to small films directed and or/starring African-Americans, partnered with Netflix and re-branded her company as ARRAY revealing that the scope of the distribution company would now also include a mandate to focus on films directed by women. 

The following year DuVernay partnered with Oprah’s company OWN to create the miniseries Queen Sugar for which she hired a directorial crew made up entirely of women. She also announced that she had secretly been filming a documentary called The 13th, which would debut at the 2016 New York Film Festival making her the first person to have a documentary open the festival and the first black woman to open the festival. 

She is currently working on an adaptation of the book A Wrinkle in Time for Disney, a film with a budget of over $100 million making her only the fifth woman and first black woman to direct a live-action movie with a budget that large. 


Congratulations to Jill Soloway for winning the 2015 Golden Globe for Best Television Series - Comedy or Musical for Transparent.  

Before creating the critically acclaimed series, Soloway premiered a short film, Una Hora Por Favora, during the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and then her feature debut, Afternoon Delight, during the 2013 Festival, where she won the U.S. Dramatic Directing Award.  Kathryn Hahn and Juno Temple (pictured above with Soloway) both starred in Afternoon Delight and Hahn went on to star in Transparent.

Check out a 2013 interview with Jill Soloway discussing her feature debut here.

Photos by Jason Merritt / WireImage and Fred Hayes / WireImage

Maren Ade b.  12 December, 1976

Ade is a German film director, screenwriter and producer. Shortly before graduation she and fellow classmate Janine Jackowski formed the production company Komplizen film. 

The production company produced Ade’s thesis film, The Forest for the Trees, which went on to win the Special Jury Award at the Sundance Film Festival in 2005. 

In 2009 her second film, Everyone Else, premiered at the Berlin Film Festival. Ade again won the Silver Bear for Best Film (Jury Grand Prix) and her lead actress won the Best Actress Silver Bear.

Her third film, Toni Erdmann, premiered in Competition at the Cannes Film Festival. While the film failed to garner any prizes from the jury it won the FIPRESCI Prize for Best In Competition film. Toni Erdmann went on to win numerous critical awards. It was named the Best Film of 2016 by Cahiers du Cinéma, Sight & Sound Magazine and Slant Magazine. Furthermore it swept the top categories at the 2016 European Film Awards, winning Best Actor, Actress, Screenplay, Picture and Director making Ade the first woman to win Best Director at the EFAs. The film was also nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film. 

In addition to her work as director and screenwriter Ade also has had a successful career producing films she hasn’t directed. She produced the award winning films Tabu and Arabian Nights Part 1, 2 and 3


Huge congratulations to The Revenant on three wins at the Golden Globes! Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor for Leonardo DiCaprio! 

Leo gave a gracious speech, saying he wanted to share his award with all the First Nations people represented in the film and all the indigenous communities around the world, and thanking his director and co-stars, in particular Tom Hardy.

“I really want to thank the actors that I got to stand shoulder to shoulder with in this film, in particular my good friend Tom Hardy who is a beast, an unbelievable talent who was there every single day, who I know in real life would never bury me alive and leave me out in the cold to die like that.”