In Ava DuVernay’s seventh feature, Origin, which premiered tonight at the Venice Film Festival, the exploration of caste systems as a mode of oppression takes center stage. With screenplay written by DuVernay, the film is adapted from the Isabel Wilkerson’s book, Caste: The Origin of Our Discontents. The narrative delves into the deep-seeded intricacies of caste and how it underpins much of society’s discrimination, sometimes transcending even race. The film stars Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor, Jon Bernthal, Niecy Nash-Betts and also includes Vera Farmiga, Audra McDonald, Nick Offerman, Blair Underwood and Connie Nielsen.
The film starts with a young Black teenager buying snacks at a convenience store. He leaves, puts on his hoodie and begins walking through a suburban neighborhood while talking on his cell phone. He notices that a car is following him around and won’t leave him alone. Then it switches to the next day, where Isabel Wilkerson (Ellis-Taylor) is waking up her elderly mother while her husband Brett (Bernthal) is taking out the trash. They are taking her to a facility for the elderly since she no longer can live alone.