EXCLUSIVE: Ava DuVernay directed the film that opened the Smithsonians National Museum of African-American History and Culture in Washington, DC back in 2016 and now the 13th and Selma helmer is aiming for another type of history with a documentary about Prince for Netflix.
“Prince was a genius and a joy and a jolt to the senses,” the Oscar nominated filmmaker told Deadline tonight of the Purple Rain star who died on April 21, 2016. “He was like no other,” DuVernay added of the Oscar winner and eight-time Grammy recipient. “He shattered every preconceived notion, smashed every boundary, shared everything in his heart through his music. The only way I know how to make this film is with love. And with great care. Im honored to do so and grateful for the opportunity entrusted to me by the estate.”
It wasnt just Princes estate that saw DuVernay as a collaborator and specifically choose her to make the film. The man himself blessed the film in a sense. Before he passed away, Prince reached out to the Queen Sugar creator directly about working together, Ive learned.
In that vein and like DuVernays 2016 examination of the racial underpinnings of Americas mass incarnation system 13th, the untitled docu started discretely early this year. Thats almost exactly two years after Princes sudden decline and soon afterwards death on the way back from a solo show in Atlanta in 2016.
As part of the development of the film, the estate has granted the ARRAY founder full access to the vast treasure trove of archives recordings and perhaps most immediately important to Princes global fanbase, the unreleased material by the prolific musician.
The early stages of the project have seen DuVernay, editor Spencer Averick and other members of her core production visit Princes Paisley Park home and studios repeatedly over the past several months.
Of course, the Prince project is far from all DuVernay has been working on this year. With a cast including Michael K. Williams, Vera Farmiga, John Leguizamo, Joshua Jackson, Christopher Jackson and 12 Years A Slaves Adepero Oduye the A Wrinkle In Time director has been in production in New York for months on Central Park Five too. Written and directed by DuVernay, the four-part drama about five Harlem teens were incorrectly convicted first in the media and then twice in the courts for the 1989 brutal rape of a jogger in the NYC park is set to launch on Netflix next year.
DuVernay is repped by CAA and attorney Nina Shaw. Prince is repped by lightening in a bottle, as he always was.