Ava DuVernay and Ryan Coogler to Host Benefit for Flint On Oscar Night
In 2014, Ava DuVernay got the cold shoulder from the Academy of Motion Picture Sciences when they nominated her skillfully-directed, socially urgent, crowd-pleasing Selma for Best Picture but passed over her for Best Director consideration in favor of The Imitation Game director Morten Tyldum, among others. Earlier this year, the slate of nominees for the upcoming Oscars ceremony was unveiled and revealed to be white as newfallen snow, with Ryan Coogler’s stirring, hugely cathartic Creed all but shut out. (While Sylvester Stallone locked up a Best Supporting Actor nomination, Coogler himself found no love from the Academy‘s directors branch.) But these two talented cineastes and paragons of black excellence know better than to get mad at the Oscars. They’d much rather get even.
But the justice they’re seeking out has nothing to do with their own plights, but rather the citizens of the third-world wasteland formerly known as Flint, Michigan. The city has been in a state of emergency since January, due to a total lack of clean running water following pollution of the Flint River with lead. It’s hard not to see the racial component at play in this gross violation of human rights, and Coogler, DuVernay, along with a host of other stars have decided the time has come to take action. So as the Hollywood glitterati festoon one another with awards for playing make-believe, a dream-team lineup of black celebrities will head to Flint’s Whiting Auditorium for a benefit to get the city a little justice. With comedian Hannibal Buress acting as host, Janelle Monae as the evening’s musical entertainment, and vocal actor/activist Jesse Williams in attendance, the night will celebrate black success in the entertainment industry while attempting to get the citizens of Flint a little bit of the justice they deserve.
The event begins on Sunday at 5:30 p.m. eastern time, a couple hours before the Oscar telecast begins, and will stream live on revolt.tv. Buzzfeed broke this story, and Coogler told them directly that the overlap with the Oscars was simple coincidence, and his real goal was to squeeze this event into Black History Month. Even so, the message could not be clearer. If the Academy won‘t recognize artists of color, then they’ll just keep themselves busy by making the world a better place.