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Sunday, July 05, 2020

David Oyelowo: Selma was snubbed at Oscars due to cast’s Black Lives Matter activism

The cast of Ava DuVernay's Selma protested against the death of Eric Gardner and this, says David Oyelowo, destroyed the Oscar chances of the film.

Written by Kshitij Rawat | New Delhi | Updated: June 8, 2020 8:19:16 am
David Oyelowo selma David Oyelowo played the role of Martin Luther King in Selma. (Photo: Paramount Pictures)

David Oyelowo, known for playing the role of Martin Luther King in Ava DuVernay’s acclaimed biographical film Selma, has said that the film’s chances at the Academy Awards was snubbed as the cast was protesting against the death of Eric Gardner who, in a chilling parallel to Floyd’s death, was kept in a chokehold by cop to presumably restrain him, but he died as he could not breathe.

Gardner died on July 17, 2014. Selma released later that year in December. Oyelowo told Screendaily, “Six years ago, Selma coincided with Eric Garner being murdered. That was the last time we were in a place of ‘I Can’t Breathe’. I remember at the premiere of Selma us wearing ‘I Can’t Breathe’ T-shirts in protest. Members of the Academy called in to the studio and our producers saying, ‘How dare they do that? Why are they stirring S-H-I-T?’ and ‘We are not going to vote for that film because we do not think it is their place to be doing that.’

He added, “It’s part of why that film didn’t get everything that people think it should’ve got and it birthed #OscarsSoWhite. They used their privilege to deny a film on the basis of what they valued in the world.”

Selma made Ava DuVernay a globally respected filmmaker. It was about the Selma to Montgomery marches that were held in Selma, Alabama in 1965 and which led to the Voting Rights Act of 1965 — which prohibits racial discrimination in voting. David Oyelowo’s performance was widely appreciated as Dr King, the iconic, Mahatma Gandhi-inspired civil rights activist.

Also Read | Five films on racism you should watch

Selma scored an incredible 99 per cent rating at Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus read, “Fueled by a gripping performance from David Oyelowo, Selma draws inspiration and dramatic power from the life and death of Martin Luther King, Jr. — but doesn’t ignore how far we remain from the ideals his work embodied.”

Selma also starred Tom Wilkinson, Tim Roth, Carmen Ejogo, Stephan James, Wendell Pierce among others.

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