The citizens of Selma, Alabama, will get a chance to see free of charge the film “Selma,” which was both shot and takes place in the town, courtesy of Paramount Pictures. However, many in the town are torn over whether the movie will be good for the community.
“With deep gratitude to the people of Selma, Alabama, we are proud to share this powerful film depicting the historic events that took place there 50 years ago,” actress/producer Oprah Winfrey said in a statement cited by the Hollywood Reporter. “I hope generations will watch the film and share their stories of remembrance and history together.”
The Golden Globe-nominated film, depicting the events surrounding the 1965 civil-rights demonstration led by Martin Luther King Jr. (David Oyelowo) brings back a lot of memories for the town. During the civil-rights movement, King led a group of protesters as they marched to demand equal voting rights for the city’s black residents.
“I don’t know if the movie is going to help Selma’s image the way it will be portrayed,” one resident told Reuters. Many people in the town, which the news agency described as roughly 80 percent black, have deep ties to the protests of the 1960s.
“I don’t see it as opening up new wounds. I see it as a part of history,” another resident said. “It was painful, but we all got better as a result of it.”
Despite the controversy, Winfrey believes this is a powerful story worth telling to a modern-day audience. According to E Online, the former talk-show superstar had to be convinced to do the film. She said it was the real-life version of her character who finally made her realize the role was worth it.
“The reason I said, ‘Yes,’ to this role is because of the magnificence of Annie Lee Cooper and what her courage meant to an entire movement,” Winfrey told the media outlet. “Having people look at you and not see you as a human being -- she just got tired of it.”
All residents of Selma can get access to free screenings of the film at the recently renovated Selma Walton Theater, beginning next Friday.