Ava DuVernay to Help Fund Projects Focused on ‘Narrative Change’ About Police Brutality

“We’re changing the lens of the story,” filmmaker says of her Law Enforcement Accountability Project, or LEAP.

Ava DuVernay has launched the Law Enforcement Accountability Project (LEAP), a new initiative focused on “creating narrative change” around police brutality by funding projects telling stories about the topic across all genres.

Per the official description provided on its website, LEAP is “a propulsive fund dedicated to empowering activists as they pursue narrative change around the police abuse of Black People. Our mission is to disrupt the code of silence that exists around police aggression and misconduct. We will no longer accept this. We will tell the true stories. The goal of LEAP is to elevate activist storytelling around police brutality and murder through funding short-term projects in film, theater, photography, fine art, music, poetry, literature, sculpture and dance. Change begins with the stories we tell each other about the police and Black people. This is our work. The fund is powered by advocates who believe in police transparency and visibility.”

According to The Washington Post, LEAP will fund 25 projects over the next two years. The initiative is funded through DuVernay’s Array Alliance nonprofit, with an initial budget of $3 million from contributors like Ryan Murphy and the Ford Foundation.

The “When They See Us” creator announced the initiative on Monday’s “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” saying that through LEAP, “we’re asking for narrative change and we’re creating narrative change around police abuse, misconduct and murder of black people. We’re changing the lens of the story.”

“I’ve been thinking a lot about my own rage, my own emotions,” DuVernay told DeGeneres. “When I look at George Floyd’s tape, I see my uncles, not just in a general sense, but he looks like people in my family. Literally, the facial features. So every time that video plays on CNN or anything else, I see people that I love on the ground begging for their life. So there’s a sense of those images, what we’re asking of each other, and the storytelling around these instances, the stories that we’re telling each other. That’s what I’ve been really interested in interrogating. We need to change what those stories are and change the way that we tell them. And so what we’ve come up with in a short of time is an idea that we call LEAP. It’s the Law Enforcement Accountability Project.”

DuVernay posed the question, “Why do we not know who is killing us?”

“There are good officers. But we’ve heard many good officers speaking up over the past week saying, this was wrong and this cannot be. So what we’re trying to do through storytelling through LEAP is say, we need to start telling the stories about those who murder and about those who are not being held accountable,” the “13th” director told DeGeneres. “So this project looks at narrative storytelling across all genres — film, theater, dance, literature, poetry, sculpture, music — to start to get us to think about the fact that we have this big blindspot.”

She added: “We allow officers who do harm to disappear. They move to other departments in other cities. They continue to get paid while they are under administrative review. they are free to go about their lives, faceless and nameless.  And when we talk about police accountability and caring for each other, we need to be able to name those names and know who those people are.”

Watch DuVernay’s interview with DeGeneres above.