Emayatzy Corinealdi and David Oyelowo star in the movie "Middle of… (AFFRM )
It's been a remarkable week for writer-director Ava DuVernay and her film "Middle of Nowhere." Starring Emayatzy Corinealdi as the wife of an incarcerated man, the searing drama received strong reviews when it premiered in January at Sundance and it's now opening in limited release this weekend in five cities across the country -- with the benefit of an endorsement from Oprah Winfrey.
Winfrey has tweeted about "Middle of Nowhere" twice during the last few days and today she posted a Facebook message about the film for her close to 8 million subscribers:
"Saw the film 'Middle of Nowhere.' Powerful and Poetic. It opens this weekend in NY, LA, ATL, DC and Philly. You can see the trailer here: www.middlenowhere.com.
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So many women - a disproportionate number of them African American women - have to cope with a spouse in jail. This movie, 'Middle of Nowhere,' poignantly represents all the drama and feelings involved.
I saw the film and was so moved by it. I think you will be too."
Oprah is not the film's only fan, though she might arguably be the most influential. In his review, the Los Angeles Times' Kenneth Turan said, "Though 'Middle of Nowhere' is very much a character piece, it benefits from some intricate plotting, and going where you think it will go is not on this film's mind.... We don't often have films that ask questions like these or ones that answer them as effectively."
Participant Media, the studio distributing the film in conjunction with DuVernay's own distribution outfit African-American Film Festival Releasing Movement, already is ramping up the Oscar campaign for "Middle of Nowhere."
In a move that's usually reserved for a film's subsequent weeks in release, the studio is allowing members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the body that votes on the Oscars, to use their membership cards for free admittance to DuVernay's $500,000 indie this weekend at the AMC Empire 25 in Times Square and the Rave Motion Pictures 18 & IMAX in Los Angeles.
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"We wanted to find the most convenient, easy way for academy members to see the film -- see it anywhere, at any time," said Jim Berk, chief executive of Participant Media. "Wherever we go and for as long as the film runs, it will be open to AMPAS members."
A dark horse in the Oscar race, "Middle of Nowhere" can only benefit from all this added exposure. Whether it can stand out from the rest of the crowd remains to be seen, but the idea is that screening a critically acclaimed movie early can only help.
"This filmmaker is unique and special and we want her and the film to be seen by her peers," added Berk.
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