Ava DuVernay wants more accountability in police departments across America, and she’s using her talent and resources to do something about it.
The Oscar-nominated filmmaker announced this week that she’s launching the Law Enforcement Accountability Project (LEAP), to fund 25 projects, across film, theater, photography, poetry, music, sculpture and dance, over the next two years that will spotlight instances of police brutality and how police officers often aren’t identified after them. The projects will be funded via the critically-acclaimed director’s Array Alliance nonprofit.
According to the Washington Post, LEAP has raised an initial budget of $3 million from contributors, including the Ford Foundation and screenwriter-producer Ryan Murphy.
DuVernay says her inspiration for the project came from watching the video of George Floyd’s horrifying death, taken by 17-year-old Darnella Frazier.
Frazier was walking her nine-year-old cousin to a corner store when she saw Floyd being pulled out of a car. That’s when she began filming former police officer Derek Chauvin and Floyd, who he pinned under his knee for more than eight minutes.
“I’m used to watching racist, violent images,” says DuVernay. “So why did George Floyd’s final moments devastate me like it did? I realized that it was because this time the cop isn’t hidden behind a body cam or distorted by grainy surveillance video. This time, I can see the cop’s face. As a viewer, there are several times when he even looks right at me.”
She continued: “Then . . . I started to realize how rare that is. And that led me to think, ‘how many of these police officers do we never see?’ They disappear, end up leaving town, and show up in another department. Their names are said, but it’s never amplified and it’s kind of like this group contract. Somehow, we, as American citizens, have agreed to not speak their names. I do not agree to that anymore.”
DuVernay isn’t revealing any details of the projects yet, but the first finished work will go public in August.