‘Origin’ takes a look at the caste system and its effects


Journalist Isabel Wilkerson’s book “Caste” is the basis for “Origin,” the film opening at the M.V. Film Center on Friday, March 15. Wilkerson is the first woman of African-American heritage to win the Pulitzer Prize in journalism. Directed by Ava DuVerrnay, this film begins with Wilkerson’s story as an African American married to Brett Kelly, who is white.

Wilkerson begins to research racism, and decides the issue of a caste system is a major influencer of racism. She travels to India and finds the caste system active there. In addition, she learns that Nazi Germany researched racism in the U.S., and determined a similarity there. She discovers that the Nazis used some of America’s racist laws to develop some of their own racist laws.

Wilkerson explores the idea of how race may not be the only factor in the bigotry found across the globe. In India, people may be of the same race, but there is a caste system that perpetuates discrimination. And in Europe, even though Jews may have been considered “white,” in Nazi Germany they were thought to be an inferior race.

While studying the global issue of caste and its influence on societies, Wilkerson faces terrible losses that help her uncover the beauty in humanity — juxtaposed with her knowledge of the unjust systems found across the globe.

Written and directed by Academy Award nominee Ava DuVernay, the film chronicles both the tragedy and the triumph of the prizewinning journalist portrayed by Academy Award nominee Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor.

What is significant is that there is no distinction in the divisions of caste. The film shows that Wilkerson’s conclusion is an important one, and this Pulitzer prizewinner is shown at the end writing the book the film comes from.

Information and tickets for “Origin” are available at mvfilmsociety.com