Mudbound is the story of two men -- one white, one black -- who return home after World War II to face very different challenges despite their shared experiences.
It portrays the realities of the South in the era of Jim Crow, and it has garnered four Oscar nominations including recognition for writer-director Dee Rees.
"I'm excited," she said. "My film Mudbound is being honored for cinematography, which is Rachel Morrison. And Rachel is an amazing (artist). So I'm glad her craft is getting recognized."
Rees, who is nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay, said it was important for her as a female director to hire a crew that might not resemble one typical of Hollywood.
"As a writer-director, I wanted to hire females," she said. "And it was important to have women, it wasn't just tokenism, it was women who are the best at what they do. So it was important for me to hire women below the line who also were excellent at their craft."
And despite the current focus on diversity and gender equality, Rees doesn't want that to be the focus of the film.
"I want audiences to appreciate Mudbound not because of the diversity," she said. "I want them to appreciate Mudbound because of the craft. So I think, like, layer by layer on a craft level, I think audiences can really appreciate this film and just kind of dive into the lushness of the relationships and the story."
Don't miss the Oscars, Sunday, March 4 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.
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