Ava DuVernay wins John Cassavetes award at Independent Spirit Awards

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Director Ava DuVernay took home the John Cassavetes directing award at this weekend’s Independent Spirit Awards for her acclaimed film Middle of Nowhere.

The honor, named after the late, great independent filmmaker is given to productions that cost less than $500,000.

The win follows her historic triumph at the Sundance Film Festival, where she became the first black female filmmaker to win that festival’s best director award.

Middle of Nowhere depicts the story of a black woman struggling to support her incarcerated husband.

DuVernay is a member of theGrio’s 2013 class because of her recent breakthrough success.

“I’ve been told there is no audience for our films. If the stories I’m telling are firmly rooted in characters that are not part of the dominant culture,” DuVernay told the Los Angeles Times, “it’s a question as to can I create an audience, and can I create interest, and can I create a sense of value around the stories of the people I’m interested in.”