Heineken USA, the world’s leading international brewer, and the Tribeca Film Institute® are happy to award the first annual Heineken Affinity Award to writer/director Ava DuVernay. With the goal of honoring an African-American filmmaker (age 21 and over), this award is meant to empower and encourage these talented artists to craft stories through film. The 20,000 cash prize will be presented at an event tonight, and DuVernay will receive year round support from TFI to assist with her professional development as she works on future projects.

DuVernay won the Best Director Award at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival for her second feature film, Middle of Nowhere.  A writer, director and distributor of independent films, she received critical acclaim for the dramatic feature I Will Follow, as well as for the music documentaries This is the Life and My Mic Sounds Nice. Her upcoming project Part of the Sky, is currently in development.  She is also the founder of the African-American Film Festival Releasing Movement (AFFRM). DuVernay was chosen as the winner by public vote on a website dedicated to the Heineken Affinity Award.  Hundreds of thousands of visitors cast their votes from January 15 to March 31, 2013.

The filmmakers nominated for this award were chosen through a survey of industry executives. From the list of submissions, Heineken and TFI invited ten finalists to apply for the award. Submissions were judged on the following criteria: how well they fulfilled the mission of the Tribeca Film Institute; the quality and strength of the proposal; the potential for international and US distribution; and, the filmmakers’ previous body of work.

In addition to DuVernay, the finalists were Andrew Dosunmu, Cheryl Dunye, Nelson George, Kahlil Joseph, Victoria Mahoney, Terence Nance, Akosua Adoma Owuso, Yvonne Welbon, and Ross Williams. Each of the filmmakers will receive a $1,000 grant.

“Our partnership with Heineken on the Affinity Award allows TFI to broaden our support of working filmmakers from communities that are underrepresented in the film industry,” explained Beth Janson, Executive Director, TFI. “We were excited to see such an incredible range of talent and diverse voices in this inaugural group of filmmakers. We look forward to supporting many more artists in the years to come, and we thank Heineken for their dedication to the field.”