Ava DuVernay, Ryan Coogler to Compete Against Oscars With Flint Benefit on Sunday

Hannibal Buress, Janelle Monae and Jesse Williams are also set to take the stage

On Oscars Sunday, filmmakers Ryan Coogler and Ava DuVernay are set to headline a free benefit in Flint, Michigan to address the city’s ongoing water crisis, representatives for Coogler told TheWrap.

The Hannibal Buress-hosted event also welcomes “Grey’s Anatomy” star Jesse Williams, singer Janelle Monae and “Empire” star Jussie Smollett. Titled #JusticeForFlint, the benefit is open to the public and presented by Blackout for Human Rights, an organization founded by Coogler to raise awareness of human rights violations in the United States.

The residents of Flint have been exposed to contaminated water since April 2014, when the city abandoned the source of its water from Lake Huron in favor of the nearby Flint River. The new water source had not been treated with anti-corrosion chemicals and was therefore contaminated with lead and bacteria, affecting tens of thousands of impoverished and African-American communities.

#JusticeForFlint is set to take place on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. PT, shortly before the start of the 88th Academy Awards. The Oscars have been a heated topic of discussion ever since actors of color were shut out of nominations for the second year in a row. The Oscars ceremony is set to begin at 5:30 p.m PT.

Coogler notably failed to receive a Best Director nomination for “Creed,” while DuVernay was passed on by Oscars voters last year when she directed “Selma.”

“With the #JUSTICEFORFLINT benefit event we will give a voice to the members of the community who were the victims of the choices of people in power who are paid to protect them, as well as provide them with a night of entertainment, unity and emotional healing,” Ryan Coogler said in a statement. “Through the live stream we will also give a chance for people around the world to participate, and to donate funds to programs for Flint’s youth.”

He also added that it was solely a coincidence that #JusticeForFlint falls on Feb. 28, the same night as the Oscars; the date was chosen because it fell on the final weekend of Black History Month.

Who's Boycotting Oscars So Far - And Who's Just Mad (Photos)

Partners

Featured