Ava DuVernay’s film “Origin” will have a one-week exclusive theatrical release in Los Angeles and New York in December, more than a month ahead of its scheduled rollout in January, distributor Neon announced on Thursday.
The film, which stars “King Richard” Oscar nominee Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor, will play in the two major markets beginning on Dec. 8 before its wider release on Jan. 19, 2024. That short run will qualify it for Oscar consideration for the 96th Academy Awards.
The movie is about a journalist who investigates the global phenomenon of caste and how the arbitrary hierarchy has influenced society. Per the logline, “‘Origin’ explores the mystery of history, the wonders of romance and a fight for our future.”
DuVernay wrote and directed the film, which is “inspired by” the 2020 nonfiction best-seller “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents” by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Isabel Wilkerson. Ellis-Taylor plays a dramatized version Wilkerson in the film.
“Origin” has its world premiere on Sept. 6 at the Venice Film Festival, where TheWrap reviewer Tomris Laffly found it “ambitious, intellectual and deeply humanistic.” ‘Origin’ is a searing tapestry of rational and academic process, familial solidarity and romantic love, interlaced with drops of true stories that defied watershed events in history. It is Wilkerson’s journey as well, unfolding around the process of writing her best seller.”
“DuVernay has always been a storyteller of crystallized clarity. As she demonstrated in [her Oscar-nominated documentary] ‘The 13th,” her studious documentary on racial injustice and incarceration in America, she has a unique ability to see through complex notions and make them accessible to the masses,” wrote Laffly. “It is that ability that makes DuVernay the right filmmaker to tackle Wilkerson’s book, which is full of the kind of big ideas that can change the world.”
The cast includes Jon Bernthal, Niecy Nash-Betts, Vera Farmiga, Audra Mcdonald, Blair Underwood, Nick Offerman, Connie Nielsen, Emily Yancy, Finn Wittrock, Victoria Pedretti, Jasmine Cephas Jones, Isha Carlos Blaaker, as well as Stephanie March and Myles Frost.