AFI taps Ava DuVernay as artistic director

The American Film Institute (AFI) has announced that Academy Award®-nominated filmmaker Ava DuVernay will serve as Guest Artistic Director at AFI FEST 2022. DuVernay has selected three independent films amplifying the voices and vision of women directors to showcase: HELLION (2014), directed by Kat Candler and starring Academy Award®-nominee Juliette Lewis and Aaron Paul; MOSQUITA Y MARI (2012), directed by Aurora Guerrero; and YELLING TO THE SKY (2011), directed by Victoria Mahoney and starring Academy Award®-nominee Gabourey Sidibe and Zoë Kravitz.

In addition to the screenings, Ava DuVernay will moderate a special panel with the directors, who are part of the historic all-women directorial roster for the acclaimed drama series QUEEN SUGAR.

HOLLYWOOD, CA – MARCH 24: Creator/EP Ava DuVernay arrives at PaleyFest LA 2018 honoring Queen Sugar, presented by The Paley Center for Media, at the DOLBY THEATRE on March 24, 2018 in Hollywood, California. © Brian To for the Paley Center

“AFI FEST holds a special place in my heart and career. My feature directorial debut I WILL FOLLOW made its Los Angeles premiere at AFI FEST 2010,” said DuVernay. “I still remember the feeling of validation and encouragement. It meant so much to me as a first-time woman director to be seen and embraced. So, it is a true honor to be invited to serve as the Guest Artistic Director.

“In this position, I’ve chosen to spotlight the role of women directors in independent cinema by sharing the work of three remarkable helmers: Kat Candler, Aurora Guerrero and Victoria Mahoney. This trio of filmmakers cut their teeth in indie film and have gone onto direct dynamic work in all formats following their television debuts on my series QUEEN SUGAR. With this programming, I want to wave a flag for what can happen when women have the opportunity and support that is consistent with our male counterparts. Beautiful things blossom. My thanks to AFI FEST for agreeing with and amplifying that notion,” Duvernay added.

“The world looks to visionary artists to create a brighter future, and Ava DuVernay is leading the way,” said Bob Gazzale, AFI President & CEO.  “We are honored to shine a proper light upon her selections – films that will inspire audiences and artists alike.”

Previous Guest Artistic Directors for AFI FEST include Pedro Almodóvar, Bernardo Bertolucci, Agnès Varda and David Lynch, an Alumnus of the AFI Conservatory.

“Selma” Director Ava DuVernay receives her NAACP Award. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman/

As previously announced, the World Premiere of Apple Original Film’s SELENA GOMEZ: MY MIND AND ME will open the festival and U.S. premiere of Universal Pictures’ and Amblin Entertainment’s THE FABELMANS, directed by AFI Life Achievement Award recipient and Academy Award®-winning director Steven Spielberg, will close AFI FEST 2022.  

Additional Red Carpet Premieres include BARDO, FALSE CHRONICLE OF A HANDFUL OF TRUTHS, directed by Academy Award®-winning director Alejandro González Iñárritu; the U.S. Premiere of GUILLERMO DEL TORO’S PINOCCHIO, directed by Academy Award®-winning director Guillermo del Toro and Emmy Award® winner Mark Gustafson; IS THAT BLACK ENOUGH FOR YOU?!?, directed by Elvis Mitchell; LIVING, directed by Oliver Hermanus; SHE SAID, directed by Emmy Award®-winning director Maria Schrader; and THE SON, directed by Academy Award® winner Florian Zeller.

AFI FEST 2022 will take place exclusively in person in Los Angeles from November 2-6. Passes to AFI FEST 2022 are available on Tickets will be available starting October 11 for AFI members and October 12 for the general public.

AFI Members receive discounts to tickets and passes and other exclusive benefits. To become an AFI member, visit

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