“Selma’s the place. And they ready.”
In the new film, “Selma,” actor Common, playing Southern Christian Leadership Conference leader James Bevel, leans into the camera and delivers this line packed with gravitas.
It appears to be the turning point in the recently-released film, directed by Ava DuVernay, that has been lauded for its depiction of the 1965 Selma-to-Montgomery marches for voting rights. The Alabama city was the starting point for the proposed 54-mile march to the state capital in protest of unequal voting rights.
Two weeks after the film’s limited Dec. 25 release, Paramount Pictures is offering free screenings of the film to its namesake’s residents. While the length of run hasn’t been finalized and showtimes haven’t been announced, the city will be reopening the closed Selma Walton Theater to allow runs of the film starting Jan. 9.
“The city and people of Selma welcomed the production with open arms this past summer and in celebration of the film’s national release on Jan. 9, we are incredibly excited and very humbled to be bringing Ava’s finished film to the community,” said Rob Moore, Vice Chairman of Paramount Pictures.
The filming of “Selma” over the summer temporarily closed the historic Edmund Pettus Bridge and stalled local traffic. In the film’s earlier stages, Selma residents were wary of the film’s historical accuracy. But for many locals now, the filming was a small inconvenience and the town has embraced the film’s depiction of the city’s heritage.
“[The screenings are] something people want to happen,” said Justin Averette, a reporter at the Selma Times-Journal. “People are looking forward to seeing it.”