Screening of 'Selma' sells out Cobb Theatres

Rachel Brown

Every seat was filled in theatre 16 at Cobb Theatres on Monday night. University of Alabama students were there to see a free screening of “Selma,” a recently released movie that details the life of Martin Luther King Junior and his efforts to secure equal voting rights for black Americans. 

The free screening was a partnership between Black Warrior Film Festival and the Honors College Assembly. The movie screening began at 7 p.m. and was followed a student panel featuring telecommunications and film students who had the opportunity to work with Ava DuVernay, the director of “Selma,” on the film, and a faculty panel comprised of Utz McKnight of the gender and race studies department, Thomas Herwig of the Honors College and Robin Boylorn of the communication studies department.

“I think everyone was on the same page that it’s important that we give students the opportunity to go an see this film for free, and to provide not only a screening opportunity but also a perspective of the students who worked in the film and also the faculty experts who can bring subjects of race and gender, and enlighten us as to how the film was powerful in so many different ways,” said Connor Fox, director of public relations for Black Warrior Film Festival.

The student panel featured a group of five TCF students who met Ava DuVernay when she was the featured guest at the Black Warrior Film Festival last year. After expressing interest in a new film she was working on, which turned out to be “Selma,” she hired them to work on the set during production.

Hunter Barcroft, a 2014 TCF graduate, worked as both a production assistant and a property assistant. 

“You go from being in class to a week later, I was standing next to Oprah,” he said. “It was weird.”

Monday was Martin Luther King Junior day, a national holiday that was created due the efforts of the activist’s wife Coretta Scott King, who lobbied for the holiday in Congress. Barcroft said holding the screening on MLK day was particularly special because the movie humanizes King into a man many people are not familiar with.

A pivotal scene in the movie is the on screen depiction of Bloody Sunday, an event cemented in history as the day African American men and women were beaten by police forces during an attempt to march from Selma to Montgomery.

Kevin Ross, a senior majoring in TCF, worked as an extra in the Bloody Sunday scene.

“It made you realize how unreal it is that this actually happened,” he said. “It was really eye opening.”

All three professors on the panel admitted the screening was their second time to view the film.

“I think this a film you really have to sit with,” Boylorn said. “It is beautifully exquisite and really humanizes King.”

McKnight also said the film was “an example of a time when people came together, and a great example of what film can do,” by reminding viewers of those times in history.

Some UA students who attended the event were also viewing the movie for a second time. April Caddell, a graduate student studying gender and race, said she was thankful for the opportunity to see the movie again.

“I hope that this inspires people to look more into the history, because that is what it did for me,” she said.