ryan coogler and ava duvernay
Ava Duvernay and Ryan Coogler
Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez

To commemorate the release of A Wrinkle in time, Ryan Coogler has written an ode to the film and its director – Ava Duvernay.  If you’re unfamiliar with Coogler, he is the Director of the movie Black Panther.  Coogler has received a significant amount of critical acclaim and commercial success from his films over the years.  In 2013, Coogler was included in Time Magazine’s list of 30 people under 30 who are changing the world.  His work has been hailed by critics for centering on often overlooked cultures and characters – hence Black Panther.  DuVernay is a lot like Coogler in this respect.  They are both part of a new generation of talented black filmmakers rising to prominence over the last few years.

DuVernay was recruited by Disney as part of what is beginning to look like an exciting and diverse genre of films.  Coogler believes that DuVernay’s retelling of the film is a powerful and familiar reflection on loss and love.  In Coogler’s opinion, this is influenced by the loss of DuVernay’s father:

“Then she infused the love she had for her father, and her mother who is still with us, into the beautiful film “A Wrinkle in Time.” I watched closely from across the hall at Disney while working on “Black Panther” as my big sister inspired her crew with love and navigated the challenges of studio filmmaking, adapting a book that many people called unfilmable into a movie that explodes with hope, with love and with women warriors.

But above all, it’s a film about a little black girl with glasses — like my mom, like my wife, like my big sister Ava — who refuses to accept that her dad is lost. The main character in the film, Meg, uses her love, her hope and her kickass skills as a scientist to bring him back, and maybe she saves the universe along the way.”

Ryan Coogler

Coogler admires DuVernay’s early career when she was a Hollywood publicist.  During that time, she had written produced and directed “two amazing films, about black women finding hope while experiencing grief and loss, all while maintaining a production and distribution company to finance and distribute underserved independent films made by women and people of color”.

Not to downplay any of DuVernay’s other work, but have you seen the show Queen Sugar?  Not only is the show built around people of color, it centers greatly around women as well.  This is incredibly important especially given today’s political climate.  Women and people of color should be more prominent on TV and in the movies, and I think that DuVernay’s work is demonstrating the need for this.

ava duvernay

Coogler went on to write “Ava is a pioneer.  She makes the most distant dreams and ideas a reality.  Ava is inclusion, equity, and representation”.  To end the heartfelt letter (which made DuVernay tear up, might I add) Coogler writes “the main character in the film, Meg, uses her love, her hope, and her kickass skills as a scientist to bring him back, and maybe she saves the universe along the way”.