Entertainment Lead Story Movies West Edition

‘YOU CAN DO IT, TOO:’ Hometown girl brings her latest film to Compton

COMPTON — Filmmaker Ava DuVernay wanted to make sure the children in her hometown get to see her new film, “A Wrinkle in Time.”

With the help of Compton Mayor Aja Brown, DuVernay hosted a special screening of the film March 2 for more than 300 Compton elementary and middle-school children and their caretakers.

Since the city doesn’t have its own movie theater, the Dollarhide Community Center was transformed into a movie theater for the event.

The chairs and huge screen were in typical movie theater configuration with an enlisted special sound team in place to make sure the sound quality would be the same as in mega theaters.

The students in attendance were treated to traditional movie theater refreshments like hot dogs with all the fixings; nachos with melted cheese, jalapeños and salsa; popcorn, red licorice and chicken sandwiches.

“I was born and raised in Compton,” DuVernay said. “My mom (who was in the audience), my grandmom and my aunts are all from and still live in Compton. I put a little bit of Compton in every movie that I make.”

“A Wrinkle in Time,” which officially opens March 9, is a highly anticipated feature that marks the first time a woman of color has been entrusted to direct a movie that cost upward of $100 million to make.

Filmmaker Ava DuVernay, Compton Mayor Aja Brown, second from right, and about 300 Compton residents attended a special screening of DuVernay’s latest movie, ‘A Wrinkle in Time,’ March 2 at the Dollarhide Community Center.(Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney)

“A Wrinkle in Time” is directed by DuVernay from a screenplay by Oscar-winner Jennifer Lee and Jeff Stockwell, based on a novel by Madeleine L’Engle.

The film stars Oprah Winfrey as Mrs. Which; Reese Witherspoon as Mrs. What’sit; Mindy Kaling as Mrs. Who; Storm Reid as Meg Murry; her friend in the adventure, Levi Miller as Calvin; and her baby brother, Deric McCabe, as Charles Wallace and her mother, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, as Mrs. Murry and Chris Pine as the genius father, Mr. Murry.

“I read it and of course, as any reader, you put yourself in the book,” DuVernay said. “You see people that you know inhabiting the world. So when I went in to talk to [Walt Disney Studios Executive Vice President of Production Tendo Nagenda] about it, I said, ‘This is how I see it. I see this as being multicultural, even down to the main character. I’m like, She’s gotta be brown.’”

Before watching the movie, the children were greeted by Miss Compton Malia Mason and heard a short question and answer session between DuVernay and Mayor Brown.

Brown first asked DuVernay about her motivation for making the Disney film.

“I’ve never seen a black girl fly in a movie,” DuVernay answered.

She elaborated by saying that she wanted black and brown kids to finally see themselves represented in a fantasy setting.

When asked how she felt about being the first black woman to helm a $100 million film, DuVernay said, “I’m the first black woman to do it but I know I won’t be the last. One of you can do it too.”

The students erupted in cheers.

“One of my favorite parts of the film is when the main character (Meg) flies,” DuVerney said. “I’d never seen black kids, or especially black girls, fly. For the first 20 minutes of the movie, you see that Meg is just a regular girl living a regular yet sad life until she meets these three crazy ladies who take her to another world.”

The children seemed to love the film and went home with “A Wrinkle in Time” swag like backpacks, red balls and “Wrinkle in Time” novels.