Sunday, August 19 , 2018, 1:44 am | Overcast with Haze 67º


Cinema in Focus: ‘Selma’

4 Stars — Powerful

The evil of racism is powerfully displayed in Ava DuVernay’s true story of Selma.

A pivotal moment in protecting the voting rights of black Americans in 1965, we walk with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (David Oyelowo) as he motivates the clergy and others of all races to join in the march from Selma to Montgomery to protest the violence and denials of the voting rights of black Americans by the southern state of Alabama.

In this screenplay written by Paul Webb in his writing début, we are invited to be present in both public and intimate moments in King’s life during this historical event.

Part of the power of the tale is the confrontation between church and state, pastor and politician. Choosing to tell the story as a struggle between the Rev. King and President Lyndon Johnson (Tom Wilkinson), we soon realize that voting rights was not the top priority of a sometimes sympathetic president. However, the racist hatred of Alabama Gov. George Wallace (Tim Roth) and the cruel violence of Selma Sheriff Jim Clark (Stan Houston) was confronted with King’s dignity and nonviolence. These interwoven struggles demonstrate the multilayered dynamics of fighting for justice as well as political rights.

Also present in this telling of the event are notable figures in the civil rights movement of the 1960s. Along with Coretta Scott King (Carmen Ejogo), who is a strong figure of personal and professional support even when J. Edgar Hoover (Dylan Baker) used the FBI to try to destroy her and her marriage, we see future Ambassador Andrew Young (André Holland) and the Rev. Ralph Abernathy (Colman Domingo), who partnered with King in leading the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

The egalitarian dignity upon which our democracy is based comes from the belief expressed in our Declaration of Independence, which states: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” This core belief that every human is of equal value and should be so treated personally and politically is basic to Christian teaching. This event demonstrates this as the clergy came together in Selma and were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to bring justice to those for whom it was denied. That is a powerful message as we continue the struggle to care for those who are marginalized today.


» Without the strength of the moral imperative of equality it seems that human beings dominate and enslave, either overtly or covertly. In what ways have you found the moral imperative of dignity and justice for all people impacts how you live your life?

» There have been some complaints that the film unfairly portrays President Johnson and the support of Jewish leaders. How do you view such criticism in films based on a true event?

» It is obvious by recent events that there is still a long way to go until the racial tensions in the United States can be healed. What are you doing to help bring justice, peace and love between races?

— Cinema in Focus is a social and spiritual movie commentary. Hal Conklin is a former mayor of Santa Barbara and Denny Wayman is pastor of Free Methodist Church, 1435 Cliff Drive. For more reviews, visit, or follow them on Twitter: @CinemaInFocus. The opinions expressed are their own.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through Stripe below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Enter your email
Select your membership level

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >

Meet Your Realtor Sponsored by Village Properties

Photo of John Sener
John Sener
"I am known for tenacity, diligence, honesty, and sound decision making with the ultimate goal of closing every transaction to the satisfaction of all involved parties."

Full Profile >