A Wrinkle in Time hits theaters again this Mother’s Day weekend.
The film follows our heroine, Meg Murry alongside her little brother, Charles Wallace as she travels to a new world in search for her father. Along with classmate Calvin O’Keefe, Meg is guided by three mysterious astral travelers known as Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which, as the young children go on a quest to a planet that possesses all of the evil in the universe. In a phone call with director Ava DuVernay from Cannes, I asked her about her thoughts on the rereleasing of the film as well as some important lessons she learned throughout childhood in honor of A Wrinkle in Time being rereleased this Mother’s Day weekend.
The Knockturnal: Your film, a Wrinkle in Time, will be back in theaters for a special Mother’s day run, what was the inspiration behind re-releasing the film?
Ava DuVernay: Because Disney is cool! I mean I was so surprised when they said they got a great response for this from families. And you know, that there was a beautiful feedback from kids. You know, the film was made for kids, 10-13 years old, and they said “let’s put it back in theaters for families to see just in time for Mother’s Day,” and I was like “great!” because right now it’s about in 300 screens all playing around the country because it’s been out for like three months and I was like “oh, maybe they’ll put it in about 25, maybe a 100 more theaters” and they were like “no! 1,800 screenings.” So, 1,800 theaters around the country are about to have A Wrinkle in Time back and I just think it’s cool to say so I’m really happy with it. So after you get your brunch on with mom, you can take her on over to go see Meg Murray.
The Knockturnal: This film is a special film that features very important life lessons, so are there any important lessons from your mother that have impacted you greatly and that you still hold dearly?
Ava DuVernay: I hear her, these words still ringing in my ears. And, she would say this all the time and she still says it. Ever since I was a little, little girl I always remember her saying “Avie,” she called me Avie, “treat people the way you would want to be treated.” Just a real simple thing. And, whether I’m talking to her or complaining to her when I was younger about a job, or even a romantic relationship, or now whether it’s my crew or my actors, it’s about treating people the way I want to be treated. It’s really how I try to move through life. Everyone is human and really that’s the first thing that always comes to my mind and one of the many lessons my mother has given me.
The Knockturnal: In the film our heroine is guided by three celestial beings and it’s been said you have reservations about the word mentor in real life. Can you tell us your thoughts on the title (mentor) and what name you give those who have guided or inspired you?
Ava DuVernay: I don’t have a problem with the word mentor, I have a problem with the behavior around mentorship. I think the behavior around mentorship is one that is very kind of entitled. Like I have people that say be my mentor. Well, I don’t know you (laughs) and you know a mentor is someone who cares about you. A true mentor is someone who cares about you, and loves you, who wants to know you, to cultivate you, and help shape you, and guide you. And, that’s not something that I don’t feel can just happen because someone asks you to do it. And so I just want to start helping young people or people that are looking for mentors to really look to form relationships. Form the relationships, form the connection to people’s work by really giving something instead of asking for something back. When you give you get, so I’m just really inviting people to think about mentorship in a different way. And so that’s why I say don’t think about making a mentor, think about making a friend and what it takes to make a new friend. When you really form that relationship, you’ll find that you really have someone that is “mentoring” you.
The Knockturnal: This film is full of necessary themes and lessons. Is there one you found to be especially significant that resonates with you personally?
Ava DuVernay: You know, we took so many themes that were so important in the book, A Wrinkle in Time, that were so important for me to share with young people. You know, I don’t want to have children of my own, by choice, so this film has everything I want to share with young people. I just decided to share with as many kids as I can find through the movie! And, one of those things is to be a warrior in your own life. That’s one of the big things. Be a warrior, can you, I’ll try, that’s what Meg says. It’s really about you have to fight for yourself, you have to fight against all the things in this life that you might believe are against you. And, really see that these things aren’t happening to you, they’re happening for you. I could look at my life and ask why didn’t I start making films until I was 32 years old. I was black, I was a woman, I was old compared to other filmmakers, and all those things could have been things that were agaianst me, but I turned those things into positives. And, each one of those things is the very reason people want to see my movies now, because I’m black, because I’m a woman, and I have certain things to say. And so, I think it’s really about embracing flaws, and that a lot of what Meg Murray goes through in the film. Things that we might just be flawed in, and making those things our strengths. And, a part of doing that is acknowledging what they are. And, to fight for what you believe in, be a warrior in your own life. Those are some of the things in the movie, but it’s such a sweet film from a really beautiful book and I’m just so proud of that story being in the world in the way that it is.
The Knockturnal: What was the biggest risk you think you took creatively in the manifestation of this film?
Ava DuVernay: The genre, the fantasy film. It’s switching from the genres that are more dramatic into something that’s fantasy. So you know it’s really like the saying, “hey! We have to get out of our boxes.” Ang Lee is one of my favorite filmmakers and he made all these exquisite films that are kind of auteur driven films, where he was nominated for Academy Awards, Cannes Film Festivals, and all these fancy things but he also made a version of the Incredible Hulk, that no one talks about, but he stretched out his boundaries. Steven Spielberg, was known for genre films–ET, Jaws, that’s what people thought he was, a genre director, but then he jumped genres and made Schindler’s List. So, it’s about being able to move across all boundaries. One of the things I’m really proud of for A Wrinkle in Time is so often as black women we rarely get a chance to make any film let alone jump genres. And, so being able to move to different areas of film that we haven’t done before was really one of the big reasons why I wanted to do this movie.
The Knockturnal: This film features a very strong and also very diverse cast of women, what do you hope both young and old audience members can take away from all the representation featured in the film?
Ava DuVernay: I think there’s a little something for everyone in there and that’s what we tried to do. We have each of these beautiful layers that unfold and plot into a story that is universal but also specific in that you can look at Deric McCabe who’s a young Filipino boy who plays Charles Wallace and you can kind of see his experience for the specificty of his identity and who he is but also for his universality in his part in a larger story. And, those are the kinds of films I love the most. I’m here in Cannes and we’re watching films from all over the world and to be able to use the language of cinema to enter into something and understand it more deeply even if it may not look like you is just as beautiful as being able to enter into something that looks exactly like you. And that’s the magic of movies, so hopefully there’s a little something in there for everybody.
The Knockturnal: What does it mean for you to be a judge at Cannes film festival this year?
Ava DuVernay: It’s extraordinarily! I mean I can’t even say this was on my bucket list because it’s one of those things that I literally never imagined would happen. I mean certainly as a filmmaker you want to have your films in Cannes, to play here, certainty, but being on the jury is something I never expected would happen so I was flabbergasted, stunned, and over the moon to get the invitation and to actually be here for two weeks in the south of France where I’m wearing these fancy clothes and watching movies all day. Oh god, it’s just so fun! And, it’s only day two! So, I’m having a ball.
The Knockturnal: You’re really living your best life!
Ava DuVernay: I really am! (laughs) I really am!
The Knockturnal: Is there anything you would like to tell fans about the new upcoming season of Queen Sugar?
Ava DuVernay: Yeah, Queen Sugar is coming out in a couple of weeks and the DVD for A Wrinkle in Time comes out in a couple of weeks. I’m just excited about this last goodbye to theaters for A Wrinkle in Time. Yes, it’s a special time in my life and in my career to be able to have the privilege of being able to make the film with the people that I’ve made it with and the studio that I made it with, and the story that we got to tell. You know, those images of a black girl being able to save the universe, so these are images that I hope stay around for a long time. And they’re images I think we need as black people, to be able to see ourselves in all kinds of scenarios. You know our girls, our kids, are being asked to grow up really fast and it’s nice to be able to see a little magic, a little fun, a little whimsy, a little adventure. So, that’s really what it was, and it’s really a love letter for our kids. So, it’ll back in theaters again for Mother’s day and I hope people enjoy it, and I hope people just keep watching what I’m sharing.
A Wrinkle in Time will be back in theaters this Mother’s Day Weekend and ticket sales begin on Thursday, May 10.