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Middle of Nowhere is a 2012 independent feature film written and directed by Ava DuVernay and starring Emayatzy Corinealdi, David Oyelowo, Omari Hardwick and Lorraine Toussaint.[3][4] The film was the winner of the Directing Award for U.S. Dramatic Film at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival.

Middle of Nowhere
Middle of Nowhere (2012 film).jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byAva DuVernay
Produced byAva DuVernay
Howard Barish
Written byAva DuVernay
StarringEmayatzy Corinealdi
Omari Hardwick
Edwina Findley
Sharon Lawrence
Lorraine Toussaint
David Oyelowo
Music byKathryn Bostic
CinematographyBradford Young
Edited bySpencer Averick
Distributed byAFFRM
Participant Media
Release date
  • January 20, 2012 (2012-01-20) (Sundance)
  • October 12, 2012 (2012-10-12) (United States)
CountryUnited States
Box office$236,806[2]



Ruby, a registered nurse in Compton, must come to terms with her husband receiving an eight-year prison sentence. She struggles with internal forces as tensions build and life becomes more difficult. As she meets new people, Ruby must decide what she truly wants and what is best for her.




Ava DuVernay wrote, directed, and produced Middle of Nowhere.

DuVernay explained that when she began to examine what life is like in Compton and "the texture of the lives of women who live there", the subject of incarceration kept coming up.[5] The director spent months conducting research for the film, including interviewing the wives of felons, before writing a screenplay.[5] DuVernay revealed that she was exploring the same theme of "lost love and how it affects you when it's gone" in Middle of Nowhere as she did in her first feature, I Will Follow (2010). The director considered herself fortunate to be able to explore personal themes of interest in her second film.[6]

Describing her viewpoint, DuVernay told Allison Samuels of The Daily Beast,

"This is a story I know very well. I'm from Los Angeles and I know countless women who live this kind of life every day, year after year. You see women struggling to keep it all together while a loved one is in jail. But we don't hear about them or their struggles in a way that resonates with others. Their stories are so compelling. It's as if they are in their own little world and no one else sees them. I also wanted to talk about the love between two people in a setting that isn't the norm and how they survive."[7]


Middle of Nowhere had a budget of $200,000 and was shot in June 2011 over nineteen days, half of the studio average of forty days.[8][9] DuVernay told IndieWire's Claire Easton that it was difficult filming over a short period of time and thought that she could have used a couple more days.[10] She continued "It really would just allow us to have more takes, and explore things more. But ultimately, you know, my first film was shot in 15 days, so I gained 4 days. So, one day maybe I'll get out of the teens!"[10]

DuVernay and her crew spent a week filming in a South Los Angeles neighborhood. A "well-maintained Spanish mission-style duplex" on East 91st Street doubled as Ruby's house in the film.[9] DuVernay said "When people think South-Central or Compton, it's all Boyz n the Hood. It's never a house like this. It becomes an assumption that people who live in these communities don't care about their home, don't work as hard for them and don't own their homes. That's one of the reasons why I chose this area. It reminded me of the house I grew up in."[9] Other shooting locations included Inglewood, a federal correction facility in Victorville, Leimert Park, and East Los Angeles.[9] DuVernay wanted to film the movie in places that were authentic to her characters. She also made sure that the locations were used in such a way that they would not detract from the story.[9]


Middle of Nowhere had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival held in January 2012. The film opened in the United States on October 12, 2012.[10]


Box officeEdit

Melissa Silverstein from IndieWire reported that Middle of Nowhere had the top per screen average during its opening weekend.[11] The filmed opened in six theaters, making $67,909.[12] The following week, it expanded to a further sixteen screens and earned $50,554.[11][13] As of January 12, 2013, Middle of Nowhere has grossed $236,806.[2]

Critical responseEdit

Film review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes classified the film as "fresh" with an 85% approval rating among 33 reviews, with a rating average of 7.8 out of 10.[14] Metacritic, which assigns a score of 1–100 to individual film reviews, gave Middle of Nowhere an average rating of 75 based on 19 reviews.[15]

Roger Ebert gave the film three stars and praised Corinealdi's performance, calling it "star-making".[16] Kenneth Turan from the Los Angeles Times stated "Though Middle of Nowhere is very much a character piece, it benefits from some intricate plotting, and going where you think it will go is not on this film's mind. When you question everything about yourself, Ruby has to ask, what do you have to hold onto? We don't often have films that ask questions like these or ones that answer them as effectively."[17] Middle of Nowhere was named one of The New York Times Critics' Pick and Manohla Dargis commented, "A plaintive, slow-boiling, quietly soul-stirring drama about a woman coming into her own, Middle of Nowhere carries the imprimatur of Sundance, but without the dreary stereotypes or self-satisfied politics that can (at times unfairly) characterize its offerings."[18]


Award Date of ceremony Category Recipients and nominees Result
African-American Film Critics[19] December 16, 2012 Best Actress Emayatzy Corinealdi Won
Best Independent Film Middle of Nowhere Won
Best Music Kathryn Bostic and Morgan Rhodes Won
Best Picture Middle of Nowhere Nominated
Best Screenplay Ava DuVernay Won
Alliance of Women Film Journalists[20] January 7, 2013 Best Woman Screenwriter Ava DuVernay Nominated
Black Reel Awards[21][22] February 7, 2013 Outstanding Actress Emayatzy Corinealdi Nominated
Outstanding Breakthrough Performance Emayatzy Corinealdi Nominated
Outstanding Director Ava DuVernay Won
Outstanding Ensemble Middle of Nowhere – Aisha Coley Nominated
Outstanding Motion Picture Middle of Nowhere Nominated
Outstanding Score Kathryn Bostic Nominated
Outstanding Screenplay Ava DuVernay Won
Outstanding Supporting Actor David Oyelowo Nominated
Outstanding Supporting Actress Lorraine Toussaint Nominated
Gotham Awards[23] November 26, 2012 Best Film Middle of Nowhere Nominated
Breakthrough Award Emayatzy Corinealdi Won
Humanitas Prize[24] September 14, 2012 Sundance Film Middle of Nowhere Nominated
Independent Spirit Awards[25][26] February 23, 2013 Best Female Lead Emayatzy Corinealdi Nominated
Best Supporting Female Lorraine Toussaint Nominated
Best Supporting Male David Oyelowo Nominated
John Cassavetes Award Ava DuVernay, Howard Barish, Paul Garnes Won
NAACP Image Award[27] February 1, 2013 Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture Emayatzy Corinealdi Nominated
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture David Oyelowo Nominated
Sundance Film Festival[8] January 29, 2012 Directing Award Ava DuVernay Won
Grand Jury Prize Ava DuVernay Nominated
Women Film Critics Circle[28] January 1, 2013 Josephine Baker Award Middle of Nowhere Won


  1. ^ Dargis, Manohla (December 3, 2014). "Making History". The New York Times. Retrieved December 3, 2014.
  2. ^ a b "Middle of Nowhere (2012)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved January 12, 2013.
  3. ^ Brooks Barnes (January 27, 2012). "Market for Films Signals Good, Not Great, Year for Sundance". The New York Times. Retrieved February 24, 2012.
  4. ^ Manohla Dargis (January 27, 2012). "Amazing Child, Typical Grown-Ups". The New York Times. Retrieved February 24, 2012.
  5. ^ a b Kaufman, Alexander C. (November 21, 2012). "In 'Middle of Nowhere,' cast found black characters beyond the stereotypes". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved December 3, 2012.
  6. ^ Hardy, Ernest (October 11, 2012). "Middle of Nowhere Director (and Former Rapper) Ava DuVernay on the Future of Black Film". LA Weekly. Retrieved December 1, 2012.
  7. ^ Samuels, Allison (October 13, 2012). "With 'Middle of Nowhere,' a New Light on Prison's Toll on Black Women". The Daily Beast. Retrieved December 1, 2012.
  8. ^ a b Rickey, Carrie (October 5, 2012). "She's a Graduate of an Unusual Film School". The New York Times. Retrieved December 1, 2012.
  9. ^ a b c d e Verrier, Richard (June 19, 2012). "On Location: 'Middle of Nowhere' finds love in South-Central L.A." Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 4 December 2012.
  10. ^ a b c Easton, Claire (October 10, 2012). "Ava DuVernay, Sundance Award-Winner for 'Middle of Nowhere,' On Why It's Important That Stories About Black Women Be Told By Black Women". IndieWire. Retrieved 3 December 2012.
  11. ^ a b Silverstein, Melissa (October 15, 2012). "Ava DuVernay's Middle of Nowhere Has Big Opening Weekend". IndieWire. Retrieved 1 December 2012.
  12. ^ "October 12-14, 2012 Weekend". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 1 December 2012.
  13. ^ "October 19-21, 2012 Weekend". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 3 December 2012.
  14. ^ "Middle of Nowhere (2012)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved November 23, 2012.
  15. ^ "Middle of Nowhere". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved December 1, 2012.
  16. ^ Ebert, Roger (October 17, 2012). "Middle of Nowhere". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 1 December 2012.
  17. ^ Turan, Kenneth (October 11, 2012). "Review: Deft 'Middle of Nowhere' is moving and complex". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 1 December 2012.
  18. ^ Dargis, Manohla (October 11, 2012). "Small Pleasures, Scattered Amid Struggles". The New York Times. Retrieved 3 December 2012.
  19. ^ Lodge, Guy (December 16, 2012). "2012 African-American Film Critics Association Awards". HitFix. Retrieved December 17, 2012.
  20. ^ "2012 EDA Award Nominees". Alliance of Women Film Journalists. Retrieved 30 December 2012.
  21. ^ "Black Reels Embraces Diverse Group of Films". Black Reel Awards. December 19, 2012. Retrieved January 28, 2013.
  22. ^ "Critics Wild About "Beasts!"". Black Reel Awards. February 8, 2013. Retrieved February 9, 2013.
  23. ^ Knegt, Peter; Smith, Nigel M (November 26, 2012). "'Moonrise Kingdom,' 'Beasts of the Southern Wild' Lead Gotham Award Winners". IndieWire. SnagFilms. Retrieved December 1, 2012.
  24. ^ Weisman, Jon (July 19, 2012). "Humanitas Prize sets film, TV finalists". Variety. Retrieved 1 December 2012.
  25. ^ Harp, Justin (November 27, 2012). "'Moonrise Kingdom', 'Silver Linings' among Independent Spirit nominees". Digital Spy. Hearst Magazines UK. Retrieved December 1, 2012.
  26. ^ Gruttadaro, Andrew (February 23, 2013). "2013 Independent Spirit Award Winners: Jennifer Lawrence & More — Full List". Hollywood Life. Retrieved February 23, 2013.
  27. ^ "The "44th NAACP Image Awards" nominees announced" (PDF). National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. December 11, 2012. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 19, 2013. Retrieved December 12, 2012.
  28. ^ Tapley, Kristopher (December 22, 2012). "'Zero Dark Thirty' fares well with Women Film Critics Circle". HitFix. Retrieved January 29, 2013.

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