Award-winning director Ava DuVernay wasn’t playing when she said that one of her missions as a filmmaker was to uplift other filmmakers of color. Her newest passion project is restoring and distributing the rarely seen 1982 gem Ashes and Embers.
Her company Array Releasing acquired the rights of the Haile Gerima film and will release it in February 2016 under a new initiative of films called Array Classics whose purpose is to connect rarely seen masterworks with a new generation of viewers, Deadline writes.
The “rambling and dreamlike,” Ashes and Embers follows Ned Charles, an embittered and sullen Black Vietnam War vet who chaotically wanders the streets of Los Angeles as he struggles with transitioning back to life in the United States. The film stars John Anderson, Evelyn A. Blackwell, Norman Blalock, Kathy Flewellen, Uwezo Flewellen and Barry Wiggins.
Despite winning the Fispresci Prize for Forum of New Cinema at the prestigious Berlin Film Festival in 1983, the film never received a full-theater release. But now, thanks to Array, the much-deserving film will be screened “on Feb. 25 as part of the Array @ The Broad bi-monthly film series in Los Angeles, followed by engagements at The Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem, NY, with additional locations to be announced,” The Wrap wrote.
Array’s executive director Tilane Jones emphasized that they chose Ashes and Embers to be their new initiative’s inaugural film not just because it’s an essential part of the Black film canon, but because its themes truly speak to the African-American experience in 2015.
“We are honored to release Mr. Gerima’s rarely seen jewel ‘Ashes and Embers’ at a time when the film’s themes of cultural anguish and political unrest mirror contemporary issues that we face today,” she told Deadline.
Haile Gerima is an Ethiopian writer and director, mostly known for his award-nominated film Sankofa. He was also an important leader in the UCLA-based LA Rebellion film movement, a movement that encouraged film students of color from the late 1960’s to 1980’s to go against the grain of mainstream Hollywood to create unique and thought-provoking films that were centered on race.