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Weekend: Hollywood disrupter Ava DuVernay; Wesley Morris on black music; 'Jawline' doc; Filmmaker Issa López




Ava DuVernay at the Filipinotown HQ of her film collective Array.
Ava DuVernay at the Filipinotown HQ of her film collective Array.
CHAVA SANCHEZ/KPCC

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AT ARRAY WITH AVA DUVERNAY

John Horn visits Ava DuVernay at the compound that houses her production and distribution company, Array, to discuss her Emmy-nominated series, "When They See Us." The limited run Netflix show tells the true story of New York's Central Park Five, from wrongful rape conviction to life after exoneration. DuVernay also talks about how she is fighting to bring more women and people of color into the film and TV industry. And she shares what she loves about Los Angeles…it has something to do with the array of people can cultures that get to spread out and grow roots here.

WESLEY MORRIS ON THE HISTORY OF BLACK MUSIC IN AMERICA

New York Times critic-at-large Wesley Morris writes some of the most thoughtful, smart and funny commentaries on culture you can find. This past week he wrote a deep essay on music. It’s titled: “For centuries, black music, forged in bondage, has been the sound of complete artistic freedom. No wonder everybody is always stealing it.” The essay is written part of the Times’ Project 1619. Morris talks with John Horn about the legacy of minstrel shows, finding remnants of Black music in yacht rock, the significance of Motown and Nat King Cole.

“JAWLINE” AND THE PERILS OF SOCIAL MEDIA STARDOM

“Jawline” is a new Hulu documentary about the emerging industry of social media influencers. Director Liza Mandelup follows 16-year-old Austyn Tester on his journey to become a successful live-streamer from his broken home in rural Tennessee. Mandelup ends up revealing an ecosystem that includes a young manager with his cadre of Instagram stars, and the fangirls who find connection with them and are willing to spend top dollar to meet their virtual crushes in-person. 

TikTok: THE SOCIAL MEDIA MUSIC INFLUENCER OF THE SUMMER

TikTok is a relatively new social media platform that’s had an outsized influence on this summer’s top songs. And even if you’ve never heard of TikTok, you’ve likely seen its signature minute-long videos on Instagram or Twitter. Brittany Spanos spent a week exploring the app for Rolling Stone and lived to tell John Horn all about it.

"TIGERS ARE NOT AFRAID” FILMMAKER

Issa López has had a long and varied career as a creative, first as an award-winning fiction writer, then as a TV writer for "Plaza Sésamo" (Latin America’s "Sesame Street") and, later, telenovelas. Eventually she began writing and directing feature films. Her latest movie, “Tigers Are Not Afraid,” is a dark fairytale about a group of children, orphaned and living on the streets amidst drug-related violence in their Mexican town. López talks about the limits of genre, her personal connection to the film, and the reactions of different audiences around the world.

THE POWER OF COLUMBIAN SOUND

Colombian artists have made a big impact on the international pop music scene in recent years – from Carlos Vives to Shakira, from Juanes to J Balvin. The Frame contributor Betto Arcos traveled recently to Colombia’s capital, Bogotá to talk with some of the scene's movers and shakers and find out what’s in the water down there.

RIP: Celso Piña

One of the song styles that originated in Colombia is the cumbia. Decades ago, it became hugely popular in Mexico – so much so that it’s commonly believed that’s where the music started. One of the main progenitors of the cumbia was the Mexican singer and accordionist Celso Piña. He was a pioneer of the form, mixing it with other styles and collaborating with artists such as Lila Downs and Café Tacuba. Celso Piña died this week at the age of 66 after suffering a heart attack. This is one passing that does not call for somber music.