(CNN) - Building the rich, vivid world of "A Wrinkle in Time" helped director Ava DuVernay find what she had at one time believed to be her long-gone inner child.
If there's a movie that's going to tap into someone's sense of kid-like wonder, especially the one of actual kids, it's this one.
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Starring Storm Reid as the young female protagonist, the film adaptation of Madeleine L'Engle's science fiction fantasy novel is drenched in imagination and rooted in a theme of heroism.
As DuVernay explained it, it's a film that explores that "tender age where you're trying to figure out who you are and what you mean to the world and how you fit in."
"It's just a little bit of sweetness for kids ... and the kid in you, if you still got a kid in you," DuVernay told the crowd Friday at a talk for W Hotel's female-powered conversation series What She Said. "I think that's a question I had to ask myself, 'Do I still have any bit of my childlike self in me?' And I thought the answer was no for a long time. ... but this movie, making it, showed me that I still do."
As DuVernay sees it, kids could use all the goodness the world can offer them, especially now.
Pointing to her own 12-year-old niece as an example, DuVernay said she often wonders how kids, with their young minds, process the tumultuous events, "especially now with so much darkness and division at the forefront."
"It's not like it hasn't always been there, but it's really on the surface now in a way that I hope will have a positive effect in the long term. But in the immediate space we're in, I can imagine there's a kind of emotional trauma that's happening to kids," she said.
"A Wrinkle in Time" came about when DuVernay needed a bit of light in her life herself.
After two back-to-back projects that required emotionally-draining research -- "Selma" and "13th," a docuseries about mass incarceration -- Disney approached DuVernay about "A Wrinkle in Time" when, she admits, she "needed some joy."
By all accounts she found exactly that.
It also came with the bonus of an all-star cast that includes her friend and mentor Oprah Winfrey, Mindy Kaling and Reese Witherspoon, who DuVernay joked is "becoming a mini-Oprah." (In the aftermath of major success with HBO's "Big Little Lies," Witherspoon has become an in-demand producer, with three projects lined up with Apple alone.)
"It was a real blessing," she said. "It saved me in a lot of ways, especially in this time."
She admitted she's often inclined to spend too much time on Twitter, "stewing and tweeting mean things to the President."
"This has kept me from doing that," she said. "I would say, 'I'm going to go design a flower.' It kept me sane."
"A Wrinkle in Time" opens March 9.
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