Ava DuVernay is sticking with Netflix. The filmmaker will write, direct, and produce Caste, based on the book Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents. Like the book, the film will explore “the unspoken system that has shaped America and chronicles how our lives today are defined by a hierarchy of human divisions dating back generations.”
Netflix announced today that Ava DuVernay would write, direct, and produce Caste, based on the book by Pulitzer Prize winner Isabel Wilkerson. The book is described as a “portrait of an unseen phenomenon in America as she explores, through an immersive, deeply researched narrative and stories about real people, how America today and throughout its history has been shaped by a hidden caste system, a rigid hierarchy of human rankings,” and is a New York Times bestseller and Oprah’s Book Club selection. Here’s the synopsis:
Beyond race, class, or other factors, there is a powerful caste system that influences people’s lives and behavior and the nation’s fate. Linking the caste systems of America, India, and Nazi Germany, Wilkerson explores eight pillars that underlie caste systems across civilizations, including divine will, bloodlines, stigma, and more. Using riveting stories about people—including Martin Luther King, Jr., baseball’s Satchel Paige, a single father and his toddler son, Wilkerson herself, and many others—she shows the ways that the insidious undertow of caste is experienced every day. She documents how the Nazis studied the racial systems in America to plan their out-cast of the Jews; she discusses why the cruel logic of caste requires that there be a bottom rung for those in the middle to measure themselves against; she writes about the surprising health costs of caste, in depression and life expectancy, and the effects of this hierarchy on our culture and politics. Finally, she points forward to ways America can move beyond the artificial and destructive separations of human divisions, toward hope in our common humanity.
DuVernay has worked with Netflix on the documentary 13th and the original series When They See Us. She’s also currently producing a limited series for Netflix based on the adolescent life of athlete and activist Colin Kaepernick entitled Colin in Black & White. Tendo Nagenda, who worked with DuVernay on A Wrinkle in Time, will executive produce.
DuVernay is a strong filmmaker, and while I thought A Wrinkle in Time was a bit of a mess, I’m always up to check out her new projects. In addition to Caste, DuVernay is also attached to helm the DC movie The New Gods, and directed the upcoming HBO Max project DMZ, and is producing an HBO Max series inspired by the popular One Perfect Shot Twitter account.