Tribeca Film Institute and Heineken USA on Saturday announced that the public had elected Ava DuVernay to receive the inaugural Heineken Affinity Award.

The award is given to an African-American filmmaker aged 21 and over “to empower and encourage them to continue to craft stories through film.”

DuVernay, whose Middle Of Nowhere premiered at Sundance 2012, receives a $20,000 cash prize and year-round support and professional development from TFI for her future projects.

DuVernay’s upcoming project Part Of The Sky is in development. She is the founder of the African-American Film Festival Releasing Movement (AFFRM).