Urbanworld Film Festival announced today that critically-acclaimed filmmaker Ava DuVernay and one of Hollywood’s most sought after actors, David Oyelowo, will serve as the ambassadors for Urbanworld Film Festival’s 20th anniversary. Urbanworld will be held in New York City from September 21 – September 25, 2016, with AMC Empire 42nd Street hosting its featured film screenings.
Nominated for two Academy Awards and four Golden Globes, writer/director DuVernay’s most recent feature Selma, was one of 2015’s most critically-acclaimed films. Winner of the 2012 Sundance Film Festival’s Best Director Prize, the 2013 John Cassavetes Independent Spirit Award and the Tribeca Institute’s 2013 Affinity Award for her previous feature Middle of Nowhere, DuVernay’s earlier directorial work includes the critically-acclaimed I Will Follow and celebrated documentaries “Venus Vs.” for ESPN and “This is The Life.” Next month, her first television series as executive producer, writer and director, “Queen Sugar,” debuts on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network. DuVernay’s next project, Disney’s A Wrinkle in Time, marks the first time an African American woman will helm a $100 million film. DuVernay is the founder of ARRAY, a community-based distribution collective dedicated to the amplification of films by people of color and women filmmakers. She is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Television Academy. DuVernay also sits on the board of both Film Independent and the Sundance Institute.
“I am honored to be one of this year’s Urbanworld ambassadors for the festival’s 20th anniversary, joining my friend David Oyelowo. I have always had a special relationship with Urbanworld, back to my days as a festival publicist to previewing my earlier films and now as an ambassador. Congratulations to Gabrielle Glore and the Urbanworld team on 20 dynamic years of providing a great platform for filmmakers of color to showcase their projects,” says DuVernay.
Oyelowo, a classically trained stage actor who has quickly become one of Hollywood’s most sought-after talents, is currently filming the JJ Abrams produced sci-fi thriller God Particle opposite Gugu Mbatha-Raw. He recently wrapped production on The Untitled Nash Edgerton Project with Charlize Theron and Amanda Seyfried. Later this year, Oyelowo will also be seen in A United Kingdom alongside Rosamund Pike. He can currently be seen in the independent drama, Five Nights in Maine, which premiered at the 2015 Toronto Film Festival. In addition to his leading roles, Oyelowo serves as a producer on both films. Next month, Oyelowo co-stars in Disney’s Queen of Katwe opposite Lupita Nyong’o and directed by Mira Nair. Last year, Oyelowo was awarded an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie for HBO’s psychological drama Nightingale where he played the solitary character, Peter Snowden, an Iraq war veteran who suffers a mental breakdown. The film was nominated for Outstanding Television Movie earning him a second Emmy nomination as producer. He also starred in and produced the true-life crime thriller Captive. In 2014, Oyelowo starred as Martin Luther King Jr. in Paramount’s drama Selma. Directed by DuVernay and produced by Oprah Winfrey and Brad Pitt’s Plan B, Oyelowo received Golden Globe and Film Independent Spirit Award nominations and won the NAACP Image Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of Dr. King. The film received an Oscar nomination for Best Picture.
“Urbanworld is the first place Ava and I screened footage of Selma two years ago. The loving reception we received for our film there makes this opportunity to be ambassadors of this wonderful festival in its 20th year feel like both an honor and a homecoming,” says Oyelowo.
“It’s an absolute honor to have festival alumni Ava DuVernay and David Oyelowo serve as co-ambassadors for Urbanworld’s 20th Anniversary Film Festival,” said Gabrielle Glore, Festival Director & Head of Programming, Urbanworld Film Festival. “Ava has a long and layered history with Urbanworld evolving from her tenure as festival publicist in the early years to her directorial debut with her first short film, to showcasing various narrative and documentary projects at the festival, to being the award-winning and glass shattering filmmaker she is today. David joined the Urbanworld family when attending to support Middle of Nowhere and then returned for a First Look Clips and Conversation event with Ava to launch Selma. His extraordinary caliber of artistry consistently illustrated in his body of work over the years, in both studio and independent films, reflects the quality of storytelling that Urbanworld seeks to inspire in all of the filmmakers showcased at Urbanworld.”