By Rosy Cordero
October 19, 2020 at 07:57 PM EDT
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Ava DuVernay is putting Hollywood on alert!

The highly lauded director is using her power in the film industry and non-profit collective ARRAY to amplify BIPOC voices, many of which she introduced this weekend during the AFI Summit panel "Elevating BIPOC filmmakers: A Conversation with ARRAY." Panelists included writer/directors Deepa Mehta, Isabel Sandoval, Blitz Bazawule, and Merawi Gerima.

The collection was started in 2011 with its headquarters based in Los Angeles serving as a welcoming space to nurture talent Hollywood tends to ignore.

"We have to take space, we have to claim space and we have to create our own space," DuVernay said during the panel. "It really goes to this idea of, are we going to continue to knock on other people's doors and try to hit our heads against glass ceilings that are not built for us and are actually built to separate us and keep us out. Or are you going to build your own door? And so that was the idea, to create our own space."

Credit: Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images

With a powerful voice like DuVernay, the industry is paying attention. Sandoval's Ligua Franca debuted on Netflix to rave reviews in August but was already making noise across film festivals. The film tells the story of an undocumented trans Filipina worker desperate to marry someone in exchange for a green card in Trump's America.

Mehta certainly needs no introduction as an Oscar-nominated director but feels at home with ARRAY. Her next film Funny Boy, based on the novel of the same name by Shyam Selvadurai, is a coming-of-age story set to debut via Netflix on Dec. 10.

Gerima's feature debut Residue was released in September and deals with topics like racism and gentrification in Washington, D.C. The first-time filmmaker is the son of renowned Ethiopian filmmaker Haile Gerima.

Bazawule also made his feature film debut through ARRAY, with the release of The Burial of Kojo on March 31. It tells the story of a man who is trapped in a mine shaft by his vengeful brother, and whose daughter embarks on a magical journey to rescue him.

All three previously released films are currently available to stream via Netflix.

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