This morning, Black filmmakers are slated to shut. Twitter. Down. The African-American Film Festival Releasing Movement (also known as AFFRM)—the film collective founded in 2011 by Selma director Ava DuVernay—has planned a 12-hour Twitter takeover. Along with DuVernay, over 40 Black feature filmmakers have taken to the social media platform from 10am-10pm EST using the #ARRAY hashtag. This is the second consecutive year that the collective will host a Twitter takeover, but the campaign’s aims remain the same: to connect with film lovers and raise awareness for AFFRM’s 2015 Rebel membership drive.
Diversity is the name of the game. AFFRM is advancing a movement—a valiant effort to shift the homogeneous narratives, faces and places of cinema. The organization is looking to fill a well-known void in the industry by establishing more varied voices. Black stories deserve to be told, and the grassroots collective distributes independent films (AFFRM’s Array Releasing has distributed eight films to date) and also builds community through sharing and promoting upcoming film releases. This calendar, they refer to as “Melanin Rich Movies.” (#LOVE!)
In a May 2015 interview with Entertainment Weekly, Ava DuVernay promised that the current membership drive AFFRM will be able to fund two releases this year. In an earlier tweet, she summed up the need for the takeover: “Cinema should reflect the world around us. That means more kinds of films by more kinds of filmmakers. We are @AFFRM.” DuVernay has rallied the troops, and on social media filmmakers of color are pledging their support. Last weekend, Red Tails director Anthony Hemingway, who will be joining the takeover, tweeted “Excited to stand up!”
Hemingway is one of the proud many that will join the half-day social media campaign. Numerous big-name filmmakers of color that have agreed to join the rebel-a-thon, but participants vary from filmmaking royalty to up-and-comers. They include John Singleton (Boyz N the Hood), Tyler Perry (For Colored Girls), Gina Prince-Bythewood (Beyond the Lights), Malcolm Lee (The Best Man), Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale Station), Haile Gerima (Sankofa) and budding innovators like Shaka King (Newlyweeds).
So for half of a day, fans have access to the film industry’s best of the best. May the conversations lead to a change in the direction of cinema. Let the tweeting begin!