This past weekend at the Sundance awards ceremony, filmmaker Ava DuVernay received the illustrious Directing Award for Dramatic feature for her work on “Middle of Nowhere,” making history as the first Black female to ever do so. While DuVernay may have been surprised to hear her name announced for the win, the amount of praise she has received for “Middle of Nowhere” and “I Will Follow” indicated that it was only a matter of time before she received her dues. As a director, DuVernay wholeheartedly dedicates herself to creating multidimensional and realistic stories that are relatable to moviegoers of all races.

Related: “Slavery By another Name” Shines at Sundance

DuVernay’s “Middle of Nowhere” was not the only award-winning film centered on Black characters and stories. Sundance darling “Beasts of the Southern Wild” won the highly coveted Grand Jury Prize, as well as the US Dramatic Cinematography Award. The moving documentary “Detropia” came away with the US Documentary Editing Award.  Related: “Beasts” Film Favored at Sundance

Appropriately enough, DuVernay understands the difficulties that independent Black films face when gaining access to certain festivals and obtaining distributors for theatrical release. As a result , DuVernay created the African-American Film Releasing Movement (AAFRM) in January 2011 to directly combat these issues. What impact will DuVernay’s trailblazing work have on the film industry?

Related: 2012 Sundance Film Festival