Film Thoughts: Selma (2014)

Film: Selma
Year: 2014
Directed by: Ava DuVernay
Starring: David Oyelowo, Oprah Winfrey

We haven’t had a film screening in quite a while, but we returned on Friday, April 14th with Selma, directed by Ava DuVernay. This Oscar-nominated film tells the story of the Civil Rights movement and Martin Luther King, Jr. We had our biggest crowd yet for this screening, and we had a very spirited discussion after the film.

Discussion notes:

Emotional reactions: In the first part of our discussion, we all talked about our emotional reaction to the film. Some of the audience were old enough to remember when all of this was happening and what a traumatic time in our country’s history it was. We had several African American individuals in our audience who had a profound emotional reaction to this film. We also spoke about how Ava DuVernay made history by being the first black female director to have a film nominated for Best Picture.

Black Lives Matter: Alisha Johnson started discussing how the film can be related to the current social and political climate with the Black Lives Matter movement, racism, and police brutality. We also discussed similarities between Selma and Ferguson.

No white savior: Katie Smith brought up the fact that Selma is one of the first films about Civil Rights and African American issues to not feature or invent a “white savior” character. There was a spirited discussion on that as Andy Thompson felt that the trope of the white savior was unfair.

The discussion on this film revolved mostly around everyone’s experience of and with systematic racism in America. It was an emotional film viewing experience, but it was a profound experience for all of us.