Tag Archives: Ava DuVernay

Today’s AFI Movie Club selection: SELMA

Posted by Larry Gleeson

I can’t imagine a more timely film than today’s AFI Movie Club selection, Selma.

Selma, covers a three-month period surrounding the events of the peaceful Civil Rights protest march from Selma, Alabama, to Montgomery, Alabama, that led to United States President Lyndon B. Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Poignantly, Ava DuVernay’s visionary film invited audiences “to rise above the breathless shame of our nation’s past and come together as one as we look to the future.” ​SELMA was honored with an AFI AWARD in 2014.

Here’s an exclusive AFI Archive video, watch Ava DuVernay talk about working on SELMA.

Interesting Facts

Many directors were involved with the project over the years including Michael Mann (with whom director Ava DuVernay worked as a publicist), Stephen Frears, Paul Haggis, Spike Lee and Lee Daniels. Ava DuVernay ultimately directed the picture, and it went on to earn an Academy Award® nomination for Best Picture.

Ava DuVernay reworked the script for SELMA, emphasizing King and the female characters over President Lyndon B. Johnson’s point of view.

When Ava DuVernay signed on to direct Selma, she was informed that she would not be able to use the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s original speeches because his estate had already given permission to Steven Spielberg for an upcoming, untitled film. Undeterred, DuVernay wrote new speeches that embodied King’s spirit herself, although she is not credited onscreen as a writer.

SELMA is based on a real-life movement that helped lead to the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The title of the film refers to the 54-mile march from Selma, Alabama, to Montgomery that concluded on March 25,1965, with a total of 25,000 demonstrators.

SELMA is the first feature film on Martin Luther King Jr. While his life has been captured on the small screen on several occasions, including 1978’s KING and 2001’s BOYCOTT, and in a number of documentaries, it wasn’t until 2014 that his story was brought to the big screen by Ava DuVernay.

The actor portraying Martin Luther King, Jr. in the film – David Oyelowo – is British. The historical elements of the film were not a part of his own direct cultural upbringing, but he has stated that his distance helped him approach King as a man rather than just an icon.

Star David Oyelowo and director Ava DuVernay previously teamed up for MIDDLE OF NOWHERE. The film earned DuVernay the Best Director award at the Sundance Film Festival, making her the first African American woman to receive the honor.

SELMA was nominated for an Academy Award® for Best Picture and won the Oscar® for Best Original Song for “Glory” performed by John Legend and Common.

Carmen Ejogo not only played Coretta Scott King in SELMA but also in the 2001 TV movie BOYCOTT.

All the extras in the bridge scene were actually from Selma, Alabama. This was important to director Ava DuVernay in terms of the authenticity of the story.

The movie doesn’t end at the credits. Engage with your family, friends and others like you who love the movies. Check out the AFI Movie Club Discussion Questions for this movie and post your responses in the comment section!


-What is the significance of the film being titled SELMA, as opposed to naming it after Martin Luther King, Jr.? Why do you think the filmmakers made this creative choice? 

-How did SELMA show an individual securing major social and political reform? 

-Why do you think disenfranchised citizens would risk their lives to ensure the right to vote? 

Oprah Winfrey was a producer on the film and also portrayed civil rights activist Annie Lee Cooper. Can you name some of the other real-life civil rights leaders who were included in the film? 

-Initially, there was very little focus on Coretta Scott King and the women activists in the script. Why is it important that DuVernay reframed the story to include them? Why have women often not been considered as part of the historical narrative? 

-How was Lyndon B. Johnson portrayed in the film? Do you agree with his depiction? 

-Several attempts have been made to rename the Edmund Pettus Bridge because it was named after a Confederate brigadier general, but none have been successful so far. The latest petition is to name it after U.S. Representative John Lewis. Do you think the bridge should be renamed? Who would you name it after? 

-Because the filmmakers of SELMA did not have the rights to use King’s speeches, Ava DuVernay had to interpret his words and adapt their spirit for the film. Do you think the film captured the importance he played in a specific moment in American history? 

-How would you rate SELMA? 

About AFI Movie Club

I hope the AFI Movie Club brings some inspiration and entertainment during this uncertain time. AFI has created a global, virtual gathering of those who love the movies where each day’s film – announced by a special guest – is accompanied by fun facts, family-friendly discussion points and material from the AFI Archive to bring the viewing experience to life. As a non-profit, AFI Movie Club is a member-powered organization, dependent upon the support of its movie fans. To support AFI Movie Club please consider becoming a member or donating.

AFI Movie Club is a newly launched free program to raise the nation’s spirits by bringing artists and audiences together – even while we are apart. AFI shines a spotlight on an iconic movie each day, with special guests announcing the Movie of the Day. Audiences can “gather” at AFI.com/MovieClub to find out how to watch the featured movie of the day with the use of their preexisting streaming service credentials. The daily film selections will be supported by fun facts, family discussion points and exclusive material from the AFI Archive to enrich the viewing experience.


(Source: AFI News Release)



Your Guide to 8 of the Most Exciting Movies at the New York Film Festival

Posted by Larry Gleeson

By Kevin LIncoln and Kyle Buchanan

While it doesn’t have the glitz of Venice, the breadth of Toronto, or the Cannesiness of Cannes, the New York Film Festival is still a heavy-hitting stop in the fall-prestige cycle. In addition to a few major fall releases that have already screened in the United States — including Kenneth Lonergan’s Manchester by the Sea, Kelly Reichardt’s Certain Women, and Barry Jenkins’s Moonlight — the slate includes the U.S. premieres of some big-time movies, as well as two major worldwide debuts. Here are the highlights.

Ava DuVernay’s new documentary is named for the 13th Amendment, which contains the clause that seems to presage mass incarceration in the United States: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States.” If there’s anyone who can take on a topic as weighty and complex as the prison system in modern America, it’s DuVernay, whose clear-eyed and humanizing approach seems like the ideal fit for a subject this inhumane.

20th Century Women
If you responded to Mills’s heartfelt and funny Beginners, which won Christopher Plummer a well-deserved Oscar, you’re likely to spark to this one, where Annette Bening stars as a witty, fretful single mother who enlists lodger Greta Gerwig and neighbor Elle Fanning to help raise her 15-year-old son. And if you respond to throwback attire, you’re definitely going to spark to every single jumpsuit, vintage tee, and denim jacket worn in this 1979-set film. 

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk
Besides being an Ang Lee film that’s likely going to be part of the Best Picture race, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk is also sure to generate conversation for its technical ambition. Lee shot the movie, which adapts Ben Fountain’s novel about an Iraq War hero who returns home, at 120 frames per second versus the standard 24, with the intent of creating one of the most realistic and hypervisceral depictions of war ever to be shown on a movie screen. Regardless of how Billy Lynn turns out — and hopes are high — the 4K 3-D showing at NYFF should be a notable experience in and of itself.

A comedy about — wait for it — a woman brazenly overcoming her own rape, director Paul Verhoeven’s first film in French was one of the most talked-about films at Cannes. It’s also one of two acclaimed movies coming out this fall featuring the French actress Isabelle Huppert, whose Things to Come, directed by up-and-comer Mia Hansen-Løve, is also showing at NYFF. While Huppert’s two-pronged Oscar push could be a major awards-season narrative, Elle is worth seeing in its own right: Verhoeven is many things, but he’s never boring.

Natalie Portman gives a brave, ballsy performance as Jackie Kennedy in this Pablo Larrain–directed biopic, which shrugs off the stodginess so often endemic to this genre in pursuit of something even bigger than real. Portman’s Jackie is no shrinking violet, though the men around her would love it if she played the dutiful, porcelain-faced wife even after the tragic assassination of her husband. How she, in turn, manipulates the image-crafters around her in one last bid for agency gives Jackie its startling kick.

In an industry defined by big, loud, expensive superhero movies, Jim Jarmusch exists as the ultimate outlier. His movies are quiet, cool, and indie to the core, and new one Paterson sounds no different: Adam Driver plays a bus driver in Paterson, New Jersey, whose name is also Paterson, and who writes poems, and who hangs out with his wife and dog, and … that’s pretty much it. But that’s enough, and after raves out of Cannes, this should be the kind of film that gives a certain kind of moviegoer hope.

Personal Shopper
Personal Shopper
director Olivier Assayas recently stated, in no uncertain terms, that Kristen Stewart is the best actress of her generation. If this comes as an unusual suggestion to you, then you haven’t been paying close-enough attention, because KStew has, truly, become a must-see performer — including in Assayas’s most recent movie, Clouds of Sils Maria, for which she won a César Award, something no American actress has ever done before. With a strange premise — Stewart’s character is a personal shopper and, also, a medium, meaning there are fancy clothes AND a ghost — and a famously divisive reception at Cannes, this gives the best actress of her generation one of the most anticipated films of the fall.

The Lost City of Z
James Gray’s last film The Immigrant was under-seen and under-heralded, as James Gray films tend to be. But his new one, The Lost City of Z, gives him an unusually sexy topic: The British explorer Percy Fawcett’s search for a city in the Amazon rain forest, based on the book of the same name by the virtuoso New Yorker writer David Grann. Hopefully, it can bring Gray the wide audience he deserves; at the very least, audiences in the know can savor a new film from one of the most thoughtful contemporary American directors.

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(Source: http://www.vulture.com)