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While grappling with tremendous personal tragedy, writer Isabel Wilkerson sets herself on a path of global investigation and discovery. 

Year: 2023 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 (XWide) 
Certificate: BBFC 12A Cert – Under 12s admitted only with an adult 
Subtitles: This film is not expected to be subtitled, though this cannot be guaranteed. 
Directed by Ava DuVernay 
Starring: Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor, Jon Bernthal, Niecy Nash  
An image from Origin

2023 has been a resounding success for biopics. With Oppenheimer sweeping the Oscars, and The Iron Claw, Maestro, Rustin and the like receiving wide critical acclaim and success, Origin has sort of fallen under the radar. Don’t let that fool you though. Ava DuVernay’s latest exploration of a deeply moving and important story, though understated, makes for an ambitious and unconventional biopic that explores the life of author Isabel Wilkerson through the research and work she undertook to complete her book Caste.

Origin explores the need for understanding and confronting the cruelty and injustice in our harrowing past to fight it in the present. It follows Wilkerson as she travels across Germany, USA, and India to learn more about a common denominator, Caste, that connects varying structures of hierarchy and different manifestations of bigotry. With its expository style of disseminating information against the backdrop of historical moments of resistance, Origin feels very much like a documentary at times. However, that is not a criticism of DuVernay's strong and focused direction. Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor’s passionate portrayal of Wilkerson convincingly depicts the tragedy and loss Wilkerson had to grapple with while fighting for progress on both personal and social grounds.

To adapt a non-fiction book about race, caste, and bigotry into a narrative feature about the author’s experiences is no easy feat. Ava DuVernay manages to achieve this with a rare conviction, making Origin stand out as a bleak and heartbreaking story that must be seen and heard.


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Screenings of this film:

2023/2024 Summer Term (digital)