In 1965 there were three marches in Alabama, USA, which finally achieved the vote for Afro-Americans. It was the climax of what had become known as the civil rights movement, headed by the preacher Martin Luther King Jr., who was born in 1929 and assassinated in 1968.

The movie Selma (Ava DuVernay, 2014) tells the story of that vital moment in world history with realism and without fear or restriction. The fact that its director was not nominated for an Oscar when his film was nominated as the year’s best caused controversy. Recently, Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd wrote that DuVernay had done a great job directing the film but that it subverts the facts by presenting president Lyndon B. Johnson (wonderfully played by Tom Wilkinson) as an obstacle to the movement and not as the person responsible for the inclusion of the Afro-American population in the country’s civic life. DuVernay’s sympathizers, however, were quick to defend her in other newspaper columns.

It is indisputable that the controversy stems from the realism of the violent scenes of persecution against the Afro-American population of Alabama, as it deals with brilliantly shot brutal scenes. But those moments are completely real, and one can find photographs that demonstrate similar actions that occurred within that context of space and time. Recreated in color and at fifty years’ distance, what happened back then is unacceptable. But at the end of the day it is a confrontation with the past, with human violence and a lack of awareness.

It is for that reason that the film could not win the coveted gold statue and was simply nominated so that Hollywood could be seen as a generator of good ideas and as a repression-free entity. But beyond that, the film would have had difficulty procuring financing due to its subject matter and even more so because it was directed by a woman, if it had not been for the participation of Oprah Winfrey as producer.

In 1965 there were three marches in Alabama, USA, which finally achieved the vote for Afro-Americans. It was the climax of what had become known as the civil rights movement, headed by the preacher Martin Luther King Jr., who was born in 1929 and assassinated in 1968.

The movie Selma (Ava DuVernay, 2014) tells the story of that vital moment in world history with realism and without fear or restriction. The fact that its director was not nominated for an Oscar when his film was nominated as the year’s best caused controversy. Recently, Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd wrote that DuVernay had done a great job directing the film but that it subverts the facts by presenting president Lyndon B. Johnson (wonderfully played by Tom Wilkinson) as an obstacle to the movement and not as the person responsible for the inclusion of the Afro-American population in the country’s civic life. DuVernay’s sympathizers, however, were quick to defend her in other newspaper columns.

It is indisputable that the controversy stems from the realism of the violent scenes of persecution against the Afro-American population of Alabama, as it deals with brilliantly shot brutal scenes. But those moments are completely real, and one can find photographs that demonstrate similar actions that occurred within that context of space and time. Recreated in color and at fifty years’ distance, what happened back then is unacceptable. But at the end of the day it is a confrontation with the past, with human violence and a lack of awareness.

It is for that reason that the film could not win the coveted gold statue and was simply nominated so that Hollywood could be seen as a generator of good ideas and as a repression-free entity. But beyond that, the film would have had difficulty procuring financing due to its subject matter and even more so because it was directed by a woman, if it had not been for the participation of Oprah Winfrey as producer.

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