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Ava DuVernay
Ava DuVernay – Courtesy of ARRAY

Filmmaker Ava DuVernay will serve as Guest Artistic Director at AFI Fest 2022 and has selected three independent films amplifying the voices and vision of women directors to showcase: Hellion (2014), directed by Kat Candler and starring Juliette Lewis and Aaron Paul; Mosquita y Mari (2012), directed by Aurora Guerrero; and Yelling to the Sky (2011), directed by Victoria Mahoney and starring Gabourey Sidibe and Zoë Kravitz. In addition to the screenings, Ava DuVernay will moderate a special panel with the directors, who are part of the historic all-women directorial roster for the acclaimed drama series Queen Sugar.

“The world looks to visionary artists to create a brighter future, and Ava DuVernay is leading the way,” said Bob Gazzale, AFI President & CEO. “We are honored to shine a proper light upon her selections – films that will inspire audiences and artists alike.”

Previous Guest Artistic Directors for AFI Fest include Pedro Almodóvar, Bernardo Bertolucci, Agnès Varda and David Lynch, an Alumnus of the AFI Conservatory.

AFI Fest 2022 will take place exclusively in person in Los Angeles from November 2-6.

About the films

Written and directed by Kat Candler

Featuring remarkably nuanced, heart-wrenching performances, this vérité-style drama set in southeastern Texas follows motocross-obsessed 13-year-old Jacob Wilson, in a breakout performance from Josh Wiggins, whose behavior becomes increasingly delinquent after the death of his mother. When Child Protective Services places his little brother with their aunt (Juliette Lewis), Jacob and his emotionally absent father (Aaron Paul) struggle to take responsibility for their actions and to support one another, which they will need to do in order to bring Wes home.

Written and directed by Aurora Guerrero

When Yolanda Olveros meets her new neighbor Mari Rodriguez, all they see in each other are their differences. A sheltered only child, Yolanda’s sole concern is fulfilling her parents’ dream of a college-bound future. With her father’s recent death, streetwise Mari, the elder of two, carries the weight of her sister as their mother works to keep them above water. But despite their contrasting realities, Yolanda and Mari are soon brought together when Mari is threatened with expulsion after saving Yolanda from an incident at school. The girls forge a friendship that soon proves more complex than anticipated when they unexpectedly share an intimate moment.

Written and directed by Victoria Mahoney

As her family falls apart, 17-year-old Sweetness O’Hara (Zoë Kravitz) is left to fend for herself in a neighborhood where her survival is uncertain. After suffering abuse from bully Latonya (Gabourey Sidibe) and her father’s violent behavior causes her mother and sister to move out, Sweetness spirals downward, becoming violent and aggressive, selling drugs, and getting suspended from school in this emotional drama nominated for a Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival.

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