Newspaper article The Canadian Press

'Selma' Director and Star Say the Film Is Touching on a Cultural Movement

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

'Selma' Director and Star Say the Film Is Touching on a Cultural Movement

Article excerpt

'Selma' director: 'The time is right'


TORONTO - It may seem surprising, but up until the creation of the new film "Selma," there had been no major motion picture that focused on the life of Martin Luther King Jr., or his involvement in the civil rights marches that led to the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

Director Ava DuVernay said she finds that fact "incredible" but she also feels that "the time is right" for such a feature.

"With all the unrest and all of the toxicity around race relations that's going on around America right now, maybe it was on hold for a reason," she said. "We really feel like our piece is meeting this cultural movement in a really dynamic way. It's nothing we could have planned but I think the film and the times that we're in are speaking to each other."

In theatres Friday, "Selma" sees David Oyelowo playing King in 1965 as he teams up with activists in Selma, Ala., where only two per cent of black citizens were registered to vote. Hundreds join their voting rights demonstrations, which begin peacefully but turn violent when state troopers begin attacking marchers, forcing King to appeal to President Lyndon B. Johnson (Tom Wilkinson).

Written by Paul Webb, the star-studded cast also includes Carmen Ejogo as King's wife Coretta, Nigel Thatch as Malcolm X and Oprah Winfrey (who is also a producer) as Annie Lee Cooper.

Oyelowo said he finds it "unsettling" that the film is coming out at a time when civil rights protests are raging in the U.S. amid recent killings of unarmed African Americans by police.

"Unsettling because 'Selma' the film now typifies just how little has changed," said the British star, who is nominated for a Golden Globe Award for the role.

"A lot has changed but nowhere near enough, and to be perfectly honest, I have been disturbed by the fact that since President Obama came into power, this phrase 'post-racial America' has crept into the psyche. I think anyone, regardless of your opinions about what's going on, can see that we do not live in a post-racial America and I guess that's a good byproduct of all of this.

"Another good byproduct is the fact that young people are being galvanized to protest peacefully as well, but it's an undeniable movement that is now building, and our prayer and our hope is that that won't peter out and that 'Selma' will further accentuate the reasons why we need leadership, we need strategy and we need this conversation to keep evolving."

Oyelowo said he followed the development of "Selma" for years, always with the hope of playing King. He pushed for DuVernay to be the director because they worked well together on 2012's "Middle of Nowhere" and he felt she was "someone who really had a hold on character, on emotion, on emotional drive."

"If you're going to play Dr. …

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