Directed by Ava DuVernay
Produced by Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Christian Colson & Oprah Winfrey
Written by Paul Webb
Cinematography by Bradford Young
Released: December 25, 2014 (USA)
Henry G. Sanders
Synopsis: A chronicle of the campaign to secure equal voting rights via an epic march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, based on the 1965 marches led by James Bevel, Hosea Williams, and Martin Luther King, Jr. of The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and John Lewis of Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).
REVIEW: The word I can best describe Selma is POWERFUL. Director Ava DuVernay took NO time getting to the crux of the matter and letting you know, this isn’t going to be all kumbaya. The film as the title suggest is about SELMA and not just Martin Luther King Jr. Selma deftly incorporates the many, many people it took to make this movement happen. We all have seen the people marching, but not much about the strategy, the organization that it took to coordinate it all. Selma also lets you see the honest discourse and how even when the organizers had many discussions about the direction of their movement, that in the end they all agreed on the same accord. We also get to see the dissertate between MLK and the president Lyndon Johnson.
There were also across the board great performances. David Oyelowo was really fantastic as MLK and gave life and powerful vigor to speeches written by the uncredited director herself Ava DuVernay. (The credited writer Paul Webb’s original contract stipulated that he’s entitled to sole screenwriting credit should he so desire it and he desired it.)
Another one of my favorite performances in the film came from Carmen Ejogo who played Coretta Scott King. She had so many great scenes in Selma and I’m going to say it, she probably wouldn’t have gotten such great scenes from a male filmmaker.
Lastly in a small, yet pivotal role I have to mention Henry G. Sanders who played Cager Lee (the 82 year old grandfather of Jimmie Lee Jackson) who gave one of the most superb singular performances I’ve seen in film 2014.
I‘d be remiss to not mention the costumes by Ruby E. Carter. Ms. Carter, an Oscar nominated Costume Designer, did not disappoint in Selma. Everyone was dressed to perfection in period clothing and by the below side by side pic alone from Ebony magazine you can tell her flawlessness.
The King estate also didn’t give the filmmakers license to use any of King's speeches. According to The Wrap "That forced DuVernay to write her own speeches for MLK, and an individual familiar with her contribution to the writing process tells The Wrap that the director performed “a page-one rewrite” on Webb’s original screenplay, changing the perspective of the story, adding nearly a dozen new characters and coming up with a new third act — the most crucial part of any script." I thought DuVernay did a great job at capturing the “essence of King” in the speeches she wrote.
Selma wasn’t all strategy and speeches as it didn’t hesitate at all to show the brutality involved in the civil rights movement and those scenes are where the film holds its power. Her staging coupled with the great cinematography of Bradford Young made crucial scenes stand out. Truthfully I’ve been a fan of DuVernay’s since she started directing feature films and even I had not expected Selma to be so hard hitting.
This was Ava DuVernay’s biggest film to date, most pivotal film to date and despite many obstacles she achieved something special. What makes this terrific film such an achievement is that days later you are still thinking about its message, its power, its history.
Click below to read more info about:
Selma to Montgomery marches
The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC)
The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC)
Novel writing is more detailed to give you visuals and screenwriting is mostly dialogue and situations. It's up to the film director to create the visuals.
Why Novelists Don’t Write FilmsNovelist Gillian Flynn has made Gone Girl a hit—not once, but twice. The film adaptation of her 2012 best-selling book has earned $77.9 million at the box office as of press time, taking the top spot both weekends since its release. The fact that Flynn wrote the film’s screenplay—which has garnered critical raves and could earn her an Oscar nod—lands her on a tiny list of authors who have successfully brought their books to life on the screen. (Only five have won Oscars for doing it.)
It’s a wonder more authors don’t make the jump to screenwriting, especially when studios are hungrier than ever for popular literary brands such as The Fault in Our Stars and The Silver Linings Playbook (not to mention, you know, The Hunger Games). So why don’t more novelists adapt their own work? Short answer: They’re usually bad at it.
”The two big differences between books and movies are pace and perspective,” says screenwriter and cohost of the popular Scriptnotes podcast John August (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory). ”Novels can luxuriate in internal moments of indecision and longing. Movies keep chugging along at 24 frames per second.” Flynn’s adaptation—which August says he ”desperately wanted to write”—soars because she was willing to trim the fat, cutting subplots and even characters.
”You start making the cuts that are really painful,” Flynn says of her kill-your-darlings approach. ”There are certain scenes that I would just hang on to. I knew, ultimately, they were going to go. I just couldn’t quite do it yet.” Through a series of drafts and five-hour phone calls with director David Fincher—”He very much likes to see the beginning, middle, and end of a scene”—the final product came together. ”There was something thrilling about taking this piece of work that I’d spent two years painstakingly putting together, taking a hammer to it, bashing it apart, and reassembling it into a movie,” she says.
Flynn’s agility, however, is uncommon. ”Usually I don’t want my authors to take a pass at writing screenplays because it’s a different skill set,” says literary agent Douglas Stewart, who represents Silver Linings author Matthew Quick. (Director David O. Russell earned an Oscar nomination for writing the adaptation.) ”A lot of authors want to do it, and I think it’s a rare case where an author should do it.”
Creative control aside, screenwriting holds financial appeal for authors. Rights to a novel are pretty cheap—optioning will often earn writers less than their initial book advance—but a screenwriting assignment can pay well into six figures. Yet an author pushing to adapt her or his own novel can backfire; insisting on right of first refusal before the development deal is finalized can put the project in permanent limbo. Studios, agents say, only want authors involved in the screenplay if they’re A-listers. (And even then it’s risky: Jonathan Tropper’s recent adaptation of his novel This Is Where I Leave You elicited lukewarm reviews and failed to impress at the box office. That may not be his fault, but it doesn’t exactly put studios at ease.)
All that said, Gone Girl could be a harbinger of a shift in industry thinking on the matter. Eleanor & Park‘s Rainbow Rowell is writing the film adaptation of her beloved coming-of-age tale for DreamWorks Studios, while Beautiful Ruins author Jess Walter is co-writing a script version of his book with director Todd Field (Little Children). Could one of them be the next Gillian Flynn? ”The smart novelist writes the best book she can and lets the movie be the best movie it can be,” says August. ”There’s no victory in a faithful adaptation if the result is mediocre.”