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Thanks to Ava DuVernay, the film 'Ashes and Embers' will now get a major audience

A scene from the film ASHES AND EMBERS (1982), directed by UCLA alumnus Haile Gerima.
A scene from the film ASHES AND EMBERS (1982), directed by UCLA alumnus Haile Gerima.

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The film "Ashes and Embers," long respected and admired by many film buffs, never got a wide theatrical release, or was shown before a mass audience. That is, until now.

The film, about a disillusioned African-American Vietnam veteran, will be re-released and distributed on Netflix, starting February 29th, thanks to Ava DuVernay's independent film distribution collective ARRAY.

The movie was written, produced and directed by Haile Gerima, who was also one of the leaders of the 1970s L.A. Rebellion filmmakers. That group of  young African and African-American filmmakers studied at the UCLA Film School, starting back in the late sixties.  

Gerima came to L.A. from Ethiopia by way of Chicago.

"It was UCLA that I made the transition to film from the theater department and it had a lot to do, I would say, with the upheaval with the protest movement against the Vietnam War, war of independence in Africa, Latin America, Cuba," said Gerima.  "I was in the theater department where they weren't used to doing anything black. I was enraged...and I stumbled in to the cinema department." 

Ashes and Embers was released in 1982 and was reviewed by Janet Maslin in The New York Times. He stopped by Take Two to talk about his movie, his experience as a black man in America, and the state of diversity in film today.

Please click on the blue player above to listen to the whole interview, which starts with a film clip.