What Does “#1” Mean?: How ‘Middle of Nowhere’ is Making Film History and Why it Matters Friday 19 October, 2012

Ava and Emayatzy w- background

This past weekend, something remarkable took place. This was something that did not receive the notoriety or accolades of an Obama inauguration or of a tearful acceptance speech by Halle Berry while winning an Oscar. No, it was not a public display that could match that. Yet, there was a great deal of significance to […]

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“Middle of Nowhere” lead actress, Emayatzy Corinealdi and writer/director, Ava DuVernay

This past weekend, something remarkable took place. This was something that did not receive the notoriety or accolades of an Obama inauguration or of a tearful acceptance speech by Halle Berry while winning an Oscar. No, it was not a public display that could match that. Yet, there was a great deal of significance to Hollywood execs waking up Sunday morning, scratching their heads to something quite mysterious—a hit movie was born and it didn’t involve them.

Last Sunday, October 14th the world certainly changed, as AFFRM (African American Film Festival Releasing Movement) became the FIRST Black-owned distribution company to put out a Box Office Hit, with company’s founder Ava DuVernay’s Sundance award-winning film Middle of Nowhere.

Middle of Nowhere last weekend made box office history as the #1 Speciality Film Release and the #1 Highest Grossing Film Per Screen in the nation. And, for such a success to be pulled off not by the Hollywood studios or the faux Indie film companies, but instead by three Black women in a small office reaching out to local African American arts organizations in New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Atlanta and Washington, DC to work at the grassroots level with virtually no money! They made a small film that was shot in 19 days with little to no money to produce, a box office success, beating out the Indie film companies and averaging per screen more than top multi-million dollar films as Argo and Taken 2. Believe it when I state that this may not have been the headline news of the Post or the Times but the world has shifted—even if just for a weekend.

Written by Montré Aza Missouri – Missouri is a film professor at Howard University, independent filmmaker, guest film curator at Africa Center London and Washington, DC AFFRM leader.

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