7/52 SELMA. I wanted to celebrate and close out Black History Month with this powerful film directed by the amazing Ana DuVernay. I had shamefully not seen it yet as I didn’t feel up to the disturbing subject matter. And though it was tough to watch at times, that should never have kept me from the film as it has a PG-13 rating and the most violent elements are depicted as gracefully as possible under the circumstances.
SELMA is a gorgeously realized film on every level. Some directors are great because they’ve written a good story or they know how to pull performances out of actors. Ana DuVernay is great because she understands how to use the camera–how to shoot a visually compelling and dynamic film–AND how to pull great performances from her actors. I firmly believe that she deserved an Oscar nomination for directing and that David Oyelowo deserved one for his remarkable and flawless depiction of Dr. King. There were so many moments in the film that gave me chills as she merged history with narrative.
I once spent a day in Birmingham and visited the 16th Street Baptist Church. I’ve rarely experienced an American city where the energy of history was so palpable as it was in Birmingham. I’ll never forget the feeling of that place. The greatness and sadness of this story is how much ground was gained through the non-violent civil rights movement but also how much things have remained the same. You can’t look at the police brutality or obstruction to voting in the film without being reminded of very current social and political events. The message of Selma and Dr. King is as relevant today as it ever was.
Ana DuVernay continues to lead the conversation in Hollywood around creating opportunity for minority and female filmmakers. Her company, ARRAY, is worth an online visit for a look at her compelling and comprehensive vision of change: http://www.arraynow.com/