"I always knew that MLK was badass, but he’s been homogenized to a speech and a statue," said director Ava DuVernay at an Urbanworld Film Festival sneak-peek event for Selma a few months ago.
The first trailer for DuVernay’s biopic transforms the legend that is Martin Luther King (played by David Oyewole) back into a man — a strategic, jocular, principled leader who knew he was shepherding his fellow activists into probable danger when he called upon them to march the 54 miles from Selma to Montgomery in protest against legal discrimination against black voters. (Unfortunately, the Supreme Court recently undid many of the civil-rights achievements that King and his colleagues sacrificed so much to get into the law books.)
But Selma seems like far more than a staid history lesson. It’s brimming with life: backdoor negotiations with President Lyndon Johnson (Tom Wilkinson), tense domestic scenes with his wife Coretta (Carmen Ejogo), and, of course, the march and its infamous Bloody Sunday, in which the activists’ nonviolence were met with billy clubs.
Also co-starring are Oprah Winfrey (also a producer), Tessa Thompson, Giovanni Ribisi, Tim Roth, Cuba Gooding Jr., and Lorraine Touissant.
Selma opens limited on December 25 and wide on January 9.