As protests continue, more and more people in the entertainment business are taking notice. Today, Paramount has decided to make Ava DuVernay‘s Selma available for free rental on digital platforms through the end of the month. The Best Picture-nominated film tells the story of Martin Luther King Jr. and his involvement with the 1965 Selma to Montgomery voting rights marches. This is good news – but it comes with a slightly sour bit of info, as both DuVernay and star David Oyelowo have revealed that Academy members refused to vote for the film after the cast and crew wore “I Can’t Breathe” t-shirts in remembrance of Eric Garner.
Speaking with Screen’s Screen Talks live Q&A series, Selma star David Oyelowo had this to say:
“Six years ago, Selma coincided with Eric Garner being murdered. That was the last time we were in a place of ‘I Can’t Breathe’ [a slogan for the movement taken from Garner’s last words before he died at the hands of US police]…I remember at the premiere of Selma us wearing ‘I Can’t Breathe’ T-shirts in protest. Members of the Academy called in to the studio and our producers saying, ‘How dare they do that? Why are they stirring S-H-I-T?’ and ‘We are not going to vote for that film because we do not think it is their place to be doing that.’…It’s part of why that film didn’t get everything that people think it should’ve got and it birthed #OscarsSoWhite. They used their privilege to deny a film on the basis of what they valued in the world.”
Oyelowo’s quote started making the rounds on Twitter, leading director Ava DuVernay to confirm it:
Now, onto more positive news. Paramount has decided to make Selma free to rent for the rest of the month. The studio released the following statement:
Ava DuVernay’s powerful drama Selma tells the incredible story of how Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. led the epic march from Selma to Montgomery to secure equal voting rights in an event that forever altered history.
Beginning today, Paramount is making Selma available for free rental on digital platforms through the end of the month.
55 years after the historic marches from Selma, as we witness the expression of decades of collective pain, we should reflect on Dr. King’s words: “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
We hope this small gesture will encourage people throughout the country to examine our nation’s history and reflect on the ways that racial injustice has infected our society. The key message of Selma is the importance of equality, dignity and justice for all people. Clearly, that message is as vital today as it was in 1965.
DuVernay also commented on the decision:
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