Never mind “The Avengers.” Real-life heroes are coming to the big screen at Star Hall next week.
On Thursday, May 21, at 7 p.m., the Utah Film Center and the Grand County Public Library are teaming up to present a free screening of “Selma.” The Academy Award-nominated movie tells the story of an epic three-month period in the lives of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights leaders that led to the passage of the federal Voting Rights Act.
Unlike a conventional “biopic” that follows the course of its protagonist’s life, “Selma” focuses on a brief yet pivotal moment in American history.
In 1965, King and other Southern Christian Leadership Conference activists organized a march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, to win voting rights for African Americans. After the marchers cross a now-famous bridge that was named after a Confederate general and Ku Klux Klan leader, state police brutally attacked them.
A future U.S. congressman was among those who was badly injured by police, but televised images of the assault ultimately backfired on former Alabama Gov. George Wallace and other opponents of the civil rights movement. That same year, former President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law, securing one of the movement’s greatest victories.
At the time, Johnson invoked the civil rights movement’s mantra that “we shall overcome.” Yet half a century later, signs of institutionalized racism still dominate the headlines from Ferguson to New York City and North Charleston to Baltimore, following police shootings of unarmed black men.
Grand County Public Library Assistant Jessie Magleby said she hopes that “Selma” will further engage the community in the conversation about racial equality.
“The story of this crucial event in the history of the civil rights movement highlights issues that are as poignant today as they were 50 years ago,” Magleby said. “Headlines across the nation indicate that America still has a very long way to go in the struggle advanced by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his fellow nonviolent protesters.”
Utah Film Center Artistic Director Patrick Hubley called “Selma” a powerful film that is punctuated with gripping storytelling, compelling performances and stunning cinematography.
“Though many may already know the story of Selma, the film will still surprise and engage, and is a wonderful representation of one of the defining moments of the civil rights movement of the 60s,” Hubley said.
Utah Film Center outreach coordinator Sallie Hodges said the film couldn’t be more timely in its comparisons to the rallies and demonstrations that have swept across the country in recent months.
“It’s precisely these comparisons that give this film its power showing little has changed in the past 50 years,” she said.
“Selma” is rated PG-13 and is 128 minutes long.
Library, film center present free screening on May 21
For more information, or to find out about upcoming Utah Film Center screenings at Star Hall, go to utahfilmcenter.org.
When: Thursday, May 21, at 7 p.m.
Where: Star Hall, 159 E. Center St.
“Though many may already know the story of Selma, the film will still surprise and engage, and is a wonderful representation of one of the defining moments of the civil rights movement of the 60s.”