Ava DuVernay Selected for Inaugural MacDowell Trophy

Ava DuVernay will accept the inaugural Marian MacDowell Arts Advocacy Award on behalf of her Array Releasing during MacDowell’s Virtual National Benefit on Oct. 19.

“As I have learned more about MacDowell, and the range of artists who have been in residence over decades, I am moved by how their work has influenced our world,” DuVernay said. “Marian MacDowell was the woman who, in 1907, had the unique vision to support artists from many different walks of life in an effort to remove barriers to creativity. I am touched that our narrative change collective Array, which is built upon a mission to articulate and amplify stories from the widest range of art makers, is being honored in Ms. MacDowell’s name.”

This year’s award is being underwritten by Agnes Gund, who said DuVernay’s documentary “13th” inspired the formation of Gund’s Art for Justice Fund.

‘Friday Afternoon in the Universe’ Sets Production 

The independent comedy film “Friday Afternoon in the Universe” will start production in February in Portland, Oregon, with Elisha Cuthbert, Jay Chandrasekhar and Bojana Novakovic, Variety has learned exclusively.

“Friday Afternoon in the Universe” centers on an alcoholic playwright who discovers that her play has been stolen and is being staged. The producers include Sean Patrick Burke, who produced the  film “As You Are,” which premiered in the American Drama competition at the Sundance Film Festival in 2016 and won a special Grand Jury Prize award.

The producers said they are conscious of the fact that due to COVID-19 multiple productions are being pushed into next year, and are working with the actors and their representation to ensure the shooting schedule will accommodate other projects.

Kino Lorber Buys ‘Nationtime’ Documentary

Kino Lorber has acquired the U.S. and Canadian distribution rights to William Greaves’ documentary “Nationtime,” which explores the National Black Political Convention of 1972 held in Gary, Ind.

The film will be released in virtual cinemas through Kino Marquee starting Oct. 23. The 4K version was restored by IndieCollect under the supervision of Louise Greaves, the director’s widow and filmmaking partner, with color correction by Oskar Miarka. Jane Fonda and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association Trust funded the restoration.

The Gary Convention gathered more than 10,000 Black politicians, activists, and artists from across the political spectrum, including more than 500 media representatives. The film is narrated by Sidney Poitier combined with poems recited by Harry Belafonte. Delegates included Black Panther co-founder Bobby Seale, Coretta Scott King, PUSH founder Rev. Jesse Jackson and elected officials Ron Dellums, Charles Diggs, Walter Fauntroy, Richard Hatcher and Carl McCall. Belafonte, Dick Gregory, Isaac Hayes and Richard Roundtree performed for the crowds over the three days.