Oscar-Nominated Director Ava DuVernay Joins TCM’s ‘The Essentials’

The Essentials
Courtesy of TCM

Oscar nominee Ava DuVernay (Selma) will join The Essentials, TCM’s popular showcase of “must see” classic films.

The director/producer/writer — an Emmy, BAFTA and Peabody winner for Netflix doc 13th — joins TCM primetime host Ben Mankiewicz for the new season. Each Saturday, they will introduce a hand-picked film and offer commentary on its cultural significance, its influence on other films, behind-the-scenes stories and their own personal reflections.

The new season of The Essentials, which airs every Saturday night, premieres May 4.

DuVernay’s selection of films for this season of The Essentials include:

  • Marty (1955) – Delbert Mann’s highly praised big-screen version of Paddy Chayefsky’s touching teleplay about an ordinary guy
  • Ashes and Embers (1982) – directed by Haile Gerima, a rarely-seen drama about a troubled black veteran of the Vietnam War who faces new challenges as he tries to reconnect to urban life
  • Cabin in the Sky (1943), director Vincente Minnelli’s film version of the 1940 all-black Broadway musical about a gambler who comes close to death after being shot and finds agents of the Lord and the Devil struggling for his soul
  • Pather Panchali (1955) – an Indian Bengali-language film that marked the debut of writer-director Satyajit Ray
  • West Side Story (1961) – Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins seminal film about a young couple from dueling street gangs who fall in love
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  • Harlan County, U.S.A.(1976) – director Barbara Koppel’s ground-breaking documentary about Kentucky miners
  • La Pointe Courte (1954) – Agnes Varda’s innovative film featuring two storylines about the simultaneous efforts of a husband and wife to mend their broken marriage
  • Dog Day Afternoon (1975) – Sydney Lumet’s pioneering classic about a man who robs a bank to pay for his lover’s sex change operation
  • Daughters of the Dust (1991) – director Julie Dash’s look at three generations of Gullah women who reunite in 1902 before the family emigrates to the North
  • The Battle of Algiers (1967) director Gillo Pontecorvo’s look the Algerian revolt against the French Foreign Legion
  • Gandhi (1982) – Richard Attenborough’s sweeping epic about the life the legendary Indian leader who utilized peaceful means to free his homeland from British rule
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  • Losing Ground (1982) – one of the first feature films ever directed by an African-American woman, Kathleen Collins’ influential film offers an intimate look at marriage
  • Claudine (1974) – Diahann Carroll and James Earl Jones star in this unique love story about a single mother who finds unlikely love with a garbage man as they both struggle to get ahead in a system that’s gamed against them
  • Sounder (1972) – Cicely Tyson and Paul Winfield play Louisiana sharecroppers who are trying to survive during the Depression in Martin Ritt’s beloved classic
  • Rashomon (1950) – Akira Kurosawa’s artistic masterpiece set in medieval Japan with four people offering conflicting accounts of a rape and murder
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  • The Meetings of Anna (1978) – auteur filmmaker Chantal Akerman’s personal look at a female movie director who deals with a series of people making unwanted demands
  • A Warm December (1972) – Sidney Poitier’s gentle drama follows a doctor visiting London who falls for a mysterious woman

The Essentials, Season Premiere, Saturday, May 4, 8/7c, TCM