Filmmaker Ava Duvernay brings best-selling book 'Caste' to life in new film 'Origin'

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Tuesday, January 9, 2024
Ava Duvernay's 'Origin' brings best-selling book 'Caste' to life
Ava Duvernay funded "Origin" through nonprofits instead of a studio, giving her creative control to bring the book "Caste" to life.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Ava Duvernay wrote, produced and directed the new film "Origin." It's inspired by the book "Caste," which was written by Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist Isabel Wilkerson.

"This film is about humanity. It's about dignity," said Duvernay, who stopped by ABC7 to discuss the film.

"We have so many different names, so many different '-isms' that we have to deal with and grapple with... but at the core of it, Isabel Wilkerson's theory is that there's a thing called 'caste' that is underneath it all. It's a very simple but insidious idea, that in every society, in every culture, throughout time, we have a tendency as human beings to create hierarchies."

At first, many people told Duvernay this book would be "unadaptable." She was happy to prove them wrong.

"It's a nonfiction book, it doesn't have characters that take you through the beginning, middle and end of the story," said Duvernay.

The filmmaker also took a different approach to financing "Origin." She funded it through nonprofit organizations. And because she took that route, instead of dealing with a major studio, she was able to write, cast and produce the film she wanted to make.

"I was able to be free as an artist," said Duvernay.

"Origin" is in theaters Jan. 19.