#SPOTTED: AVA DUVERNAY + DAVID OYELOWO IN TORONTO FOR “SELMA”
By David Baldwin for Mr. Will Wong
He may have missed out on a SAG award nomination earlier today, but you should start learning how to pronounce David Oyelowo’s last name come Oscar night.
Oyelowo and director Ava DuVernay took the stage earlier tonight at the TIFF Bell Lightbox to present a special advanced screening of Selma, which chronicles Martin Luther King Jr.’s legendary civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in 1965. If the standing ovation for the actor and director after tonight’s screening was any indication, neither needs to worry about their award chances.
Scheduled to coincide with the 50th anniversary of King’s Nobel Peace Prize acceptance, the sold out crowd marveled at DuVernay’s thrilling dramatization and were treated to a lengthy post-screening Q&A. “It feels like the right time,” DuVernay said about what drew her to making a film about the civil rights activist, noting that there has yet to be a biopic about King at any time since his death in 1968. While the pair shared a number of interesting thoughts and anecdotes about filming, alongside opinions on the timely on-going events in Ferguson, Missouri, the liveliest moment came early on when Oyelowo started speaking with an English accent – initially shocking the crowd who had previously been listening to his near perfect recreation of King’s voice.
Special emphasis was placed on Stephan James, who practically steals the show as civil rights activist John Lewis. The Torontonian actor first met DuVernay at TIFF, later helping him obtain a ticket to her previous film Middle of Nowhere. He reminded her of the gesture during his audition for Selma.
DuVernay also spoke about her deliberate use of slow motion during the film’s most violent sequences. The spectacle is stripped from each of the four specific scenes, allowing the film to “force you to look at this”, instead of turning away or not registering what is being shown.
We’ll have a full review of Selma in the coming weeks, but this sure-fire Oscar contender is definitely a must-see! And for the record, Oyelowo’s last name is pronounced “oh-yellow-oh”.
Paramount Pictures Canada release SELMA on Friday, January 9, 2015.