With Thursday’s announcement from the Gish Prize Trust, founded by actresses Dorothy and Lillian Gish, DuVernay is the first woman filmmaker and the fourth director the honor.
She follows past honorees Ingmar Bergman, Robert Redford and Spike Lee. Upon receiving the honor, DuVernay referred to the Way Down East actress’ description of the prize.
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“She said the prize was going to go to an artist who contributes to our understanding of ‘the beauty of life.’ What a notion. With her description, my own view of what I do has shifted slightly more toward embracing the beauty around me and welcoming it at every turn,” she said.
Each year the Gish Prize Trust hands the award over to an artist who has used their work and platform to contribute to social change and inspire the next generation of creatives. The Trust’s selection committee chair Jamie Bennett revered the Wrinkle In Time and Selma visionary for her body of work, noting that this year’s selection was “inevitable.”
“DuVernay was exactly the artist to honor. We are grateful for all she has already given the world, as we are excited by all she has yet to do,” Bennet said.
Artists who have previously received the prize, established in 1994, also include Frank Gehry, Bob Dylan, Merce Cunningham and Lloyd Richards.
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