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VIDEO: Selma is a story about the voice of a community that triumphs despite turmoil

Ava DuVernay brings the power of all that went into creating that hard-won moment of long-awaited justice to cinema
Posted: 26/01/2015 01:29 PM
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IN SPRING of 1965, a series of dramatic events changed the course of America and the modern concept of civil rights forever as courageous marchers, led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., attempted three times to carry out a peaceful procession from Selma, Alabama to Montgomery, Alabama on a quest for the basic human right to vote.

The shocking confrontations, the triumphant final march and the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that followed are now an indelible part of history. But the vitally relevant, vitally human story of Selma – from the political battles in the halls of power to the grit and faith of people on the street to the private, inner struggles Dr. King faced – has never been seen on the movie screen - until now!

Ava DuVernay’s Selma brings the power of all that went into creating that hard-won moment of long awaited justice to cinema with an uncompromising immediacy.

The film chronicles a string of astonishing historical details, large and small - including the intense, adversarial relationship between Dr. King and President Lyndon Johnson, the troubling involvement of the FBI and the unbreakable spirit of ordinary men and women who sacrificed and united around voting rights. But what emerged from these stark details is a vivid tapestry of an American turning point in the making and the stirring journey of a man finding his way through doubts and daunting obstacles towards not just leadership but the togetherness required to make real change in the world.

“Selma is a story about voice - the voice of a great leader; the voice of a community that triumphs despite turmoil; and the voice of a nation striving to grow into a better society. I hope the film reminds us that all voices are valuable and worthy of being heard,” says DuVernay, a director who hails from the independent film world and whose family hails from Alabama.

Given the remarkable fact that no major motion picture to date has focused on any aspect of the life of Dr. King, nor on the voting rights movement, DuVernay felt there was a burning need for this story to be told. At the same time, she wanted to strip away the veneer of an untouchable icon and bring Dr. King to life as a flesh-and-blood man – a man with flaws and uncertainties but also with a fortitude and fire that was bolstered by the striving of people around him.

“I do find it surprising and worthy of conversation that, in the 50 years since Dr. King’s death, there has never been a feature film focusing on him as the protagonist. That’s a jaw-dropper,” she said. “It’s kind of strange and unfortunate, but I am glad we are here now.”