Melanie Hall

Martin Luther King's struggle for justice in Selma

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Selma, predicted to be one of the best films this year starring David Oyelowo, is the story of a movement. The film chronicles the tumultuous three-month period in 1965, when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led a dangerous campaign to secure equal voting rights in the face of violent opposition. The film follows the icon through the tactics and truths of a historic civil rights protest march led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr from Selma, Alabama, to Montgomery in 1965.

David Oyelowotold told press that when he first received the script in 2007, God told him he “I would play the part of Martin Luther King”. Unfortunately for him, “the director at the time didn’t agree with God”. The film has seen its fair share of directors with Stephen Frears, Paul Haggis, Michael Mann, Spike Lee, and Lee Daniels all reportedly attached to the film before DuVernay.

The film aims to portray the historical facts of the events. In some scenes, freedom fighters John Lewis, an American politician and civil rights leader, and Andrew Young, former mayor of Atlanta and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, appear as characters in the film. The film makers also asked for those who were present at the march to help as film extras. One marcher, still bearing scars off an assault by Wallace’s goons, also played an extra in the film.


One of the most intense scenes in the film is the brutal, frenetic Bloody Sunday sequence, where protesters are rushed by whip-cracking state police.

Director Ava DuVernay’s father didn’t take part in the march, but witnessed it as they passed his farm in Alabama, in the middle of the two cities. Talk indicates that DuVernay may make some history of her own with Selma becoming the first black woman to earn an Oscar nomination for Best Director.

American history has come to the forefront of cinema in recent times, with 12 Years A Slave winning awards throughout last year. The difference with Selma though is the exact opposite of the noble, immobile sepia-toned biopic that usually define the awards season.

The first audience was at L.A.’s AFI Fest in early November. Those invited to the first screening of the film gave little away, other than reports of people crying during the screening. Selma earned another standing ovation at its first full New York airing.

Though the film is predicted to do well when it comes to awards, they have faced some problems with providing academies with copies of the film. Other problems the film faces is the competition for sales as it competes with Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper.

The star filled cast includes Tom Wilkinson (President Johnson), Cuba Gooding Jr., Alessandro Nivola, Giovanni Ribisi Common, Carmen Ejogo, Lorraine Toussaint, Tim Roth and Oprah Winfrey.

The film is due for British release on February 2, 2015 nationwide.


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