Last night my wife and I attended the first New York City screening of SELMA. If the audience’s reaction during and after the screening were any indication, this film should do well at the box office.
The film is about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (David Oyelowo) in early 1965 leading a peaceful protest in Selma, Alabama, that ends with a march from Selma to the state’s capital in Montgomery. The protest is an attempt by Dr. King to force President Lyndon Baines Johnson (Tom Wilkinson) to introduce the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to Congress. The VRA, which prohibits racial discrimination in voting, would eventually be signed into law by President Johnson on August 6, 1965.
A standing ovation concluded the ending of the screening when the film’s director, Ava DuVernay (MIDDLE OF NOWHERE), and the film’s Director of Photography, Bradford Young (MOTHER COURAGE, MIDDLE OF NOWHERE, PARIAH), were introduced. Ms. DuVernay explained that SELMA is the first film about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. being released by a major studio (Paramount), and that she really wanted to demystify the mythology that surrounds Dr. King. She continued to stress that Mr. King was just a man that did extraordinary things, and that it was important for her to show that in the film.
SLEMA is a good film (and not just because it is an important historical film) that has awards aspirations.
The film will open December 25, 2014, in limited release, and will open wide on January 9, 2015.