[SwaysUniverse Exclusive] Sways Universe was on hand for a special screening of the Ava DuVernay directed film Selma, which provides a more humanized look at a man of near mythical proportions.
Starting with a 1963 church bombing that left four young girls dead in Birmingham, Alabama; the film immediately dives into the heart of the events that helped shape the course of the Civil Rights Movement which would affect the South and beyond.
Although the Civil Rights Act of 1964 officially desegregated the South, in reality African Americans were still subject to brutal violence and biased laws which effectively prevented them from accessing a basic constitutional right; the right to vote. Faced with outrageous literacy tests, poll taxes and blatant intimidation, the Jim Crow era sought to keep the status quo by any means necessary.
Portrayed by David Oyelowo, the film chronicles Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as he organizes an entire movement intent on forcing the federal government’s hand to pass legislation striking down illegal voting restrictions. Turning their attention to Selma, King clashes with authorities as protesters are viciously jailed, dehumanized and at times, murdered. The tide finally begins to turn in their favor, as cameras captured protesters being beaten in broad daylight simply for trying to cross the Pettus Bridge into Montgomery; an event that occurred only 50 years ago.
The Golden Globe nominated film soars due to its ability to effectively capture the man behind the myth; boldly tackling issues like infidelity, which was used as a tactic by former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, as he sent tapes to Coretta King (played by Carmen Ejogo) in an effort to blackmail her famous husband.
“They’re gonna ruin me. So they can ruin this movement,” utters King from within a jail cell.
With powerful performances from Oprah Winfrey, Cuba Gooding Jr., Tom Wilkinson and more, Selma gives a visual account of the battle that was faced during that era and doesn’t shy away from showing that even amongst his own camp, there were doubters, including King who at times even doubted himself.
Much has been made over the relationship between King and former President Lyndon B. Johnson, as Johnson supporters claim he did not contest the the voting legislation in the manner in which the film suggests. Yet others claim it hits the nail on the head. According to journalist Gay Talese, who covered the turmoil in Selma, “I was on the Pettus Bridge and I watched the mayhem, the madness of Sheriff Clark. She [DuVernay] got it. I was there. I saw it. She wasn’t there, but she got it. When I was seeing the film, I was seeing what I remembered, truly remembered.”
Set to hit theatres on January 9, Selma takes an honest look at a complicated man with good intentions, proving that King was much more than his famous “I Have A Dream” speech.
Take a look at the trailer below: