array by Chorouk Akik April 16, 2019
ARRAY film distribution company recently announced the opening of a new theatre on their L.A. campus.
Filmmaker and activist icon Ava DuVernay founded ARRAY. Duvernay launched the organization in 2010 at the Sundance Film Festival under the name The African American Film festival Releasing Movement (AFFRM). Additionally, ARRAY is a grassroots independent film distribution and resource collective.
Similar to Sundance, ARRAY distributes independent films but focuses on amplifying the voices and films of POC and women globally. Vice President of ARRAY Tilane Jones said,
“It’s really a labor of love, which is all driven by a desire to be in service of people. It’s about not only ownership but also access.”
DuVernay has criticized the lack of theatres in POC communities. She highlights the lack of access to films for African-American and Latinx communities that are a cinema desert.
This is counterintuitive considering that POCs make up a large portion of the moviegoing audience. Also, according to recent stats, they buy more tickets than their Caucasian counterparts.
This is a big deal in convos about cinema + access. Don’t get me started on the fact that many communities of color don’t have a movie theater at all. Can’t see SELMA in Selma. No theater there. Can’t see STRAIGHT OUT OF COMPTON in Compton. No theater there. #CinemaSegregation https://t.co/vpoZoatY6x
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) July 1, 2018
Booking theatres to show the independent films ARRAY distributes is a challenge because the industry often claims that films made by and for POC and women don’t do well. Although ARRAY may not be in a position to open enough theatres to remedy this issue, they have sought to find a solution to another problem.
In response, ARRAY decided to cut out the middle man and have their own theatre at their Campus. The theatre shows films produced by ARRAY as well as submissions from aspiring artists and filmmakers. Additionally, the theatre will be available for rent.
The ARRAY business model feels less like a business and more like goal-oriented creativity distributor. Ava DuVernay emphasizes the choices of quality of art and curation of PR over profit. As a result, ARRAY claims that it has attracted filmmakers that would’ve otherwise gone to larger firms.
The existence of ARRAY itself proves that films made by and depicting people of color and women can attract large and loyal audiences. The largest film produced by ARRAY, “Middle of Nowhere” grossed over $236,000 at the box office. The addition of this theatre can only help them reach broader audiences.
ARRAY continues to fight for the artists that need them most. Just like their slogan claims, “Artists + Advocacy + Audiences Aligned.”