Hillary Clinton, Donna Langley Celebrate Ava DuVernay as a Pathbreaker and Change-Maker at DVF Awards in Venice

Hillary Clinton and Universal’s Donna Langley praised U.S. director, producer and social justice activist Ava DuVernay for being “a pathbreaker, a change-maker, a historical filmmaker,” as Clinton put it, during the 13th DVF Awards. The gala was held Thursday on the sidelines of the Venice Film Festival by fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg to honor extraordinary women. 

The former U.S. secretary of state noted that DuVernay – who is among this year’s DVF honorees – “became the first African American woman ever nominated for an Academy Award as director [for “Selma”].

“Yes, her visionary works about Black histories and experiences are more relevant today than ever,” Clinton added. But Clinton went on to further praise DuVernay for “opening doors not just for herself, but for so many others.”

The Venice gala — held in the 14th century Scuola Grande di San Giovanni Evangelista monumental complex featuring frescoes, an inlaid marble floor and gigantic baroque paintings — was attended by IAC Chairman Barry Diller, who is Von Furstenberg’s husband, CAA co-chairman Bryan Lourd and Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, who presented an award to Chadian climate activist Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim.

Diane von Furstenberg and The Diller-von Furstenberg Family Foundation founded the DVF Awards more than a decade ago. They are being held in Venice for the first time after taking place in Paris last year. This year’s DVF honorees also included European Central Bank president Christine Lagarde; Ukrainian educator Zoya Lytvyn; and 10 outstanding women from Afghanistan “who are working to ensure a safe and sustainable future for the most at-risk Afghan women and girls,” according to a DVF statement.

The event was hosted by Reuters editor-in-chief Alessandra Galloni and Clarissa Ward, chief international correspondent for CNN. 

Clinton, who was attending on behalf of Vital Voices Global Partnership, the non-profit she founded in 1997, also made an appearance on the Venice Film Festival red carpet on Wednesday for the opening ceremony.

“I hope someday one of our movies will be at the Venice Film Festival, like the one we have at Toronto,” Clinton said, speaking to Variety.

Toronto Film Festival will soon see the premiere of the doc “In Your Hands,” produced by Hillary Clinton and Chelsea Clinton through their banner HiddenLight Productions, which is about one of Afghanistan’s first female mayors.

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