Ava DuVernay made history Thursday morning by becoming the first African-American female feature director to be nominated for a Golden Globe.
DuVernay said she learned not to have high expectations from her days as a publicist and that the honor was completely unexpected. She said she was especially glad that her leading man David Oyelowo had his performance as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. recognized.
“I really wanted to hear David’s name, because he gave every inch of himself to this movie. When I heard his name, I said, ‘Lord have mercy,'” DuVernay told TheWrap from the top floor of a hotel in Ontario, where she presented “Selma” to the Toronto International Film Festival’s Cameron Bailey. “I’m looking out over the city the window, and it’s covered in snow. It’s kind of dreamy. I feel like I’m on a cloud. We shot this in 32 days and finished filming in July. I was still editing three-and-a-half weeks ago, so I’m just catching up with the moment,” exclaimed DuVernay.
Does the director think that all the awards recognition for “Selma” will help the film at the box office?
“I think all of these things make a difference, because they validate the film and these recognitions get into the culture. I just hope people go out and see it. In this cultural moment, this movie we’ve made has something to say and add to the zeitgeist, so whatever people think of it, I just invite them to think of what happened back then and what is happening now,” DuVernay said.
Meanwhile, “Selma” producers Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner of Brad Pitt‘s company Plan B Entertainment also spoke with TheWrap following the film’s Golden Globe nomination for Best Picture, Drama. The duo will meet up with the rest of the “Selma” team in Washington, D.C.
“It’s incredible that this film is now on this global stage, and it’s a testament to the universality of the story and the efforts of Ava, David and Oprah to get this movie done on a tight budget in 32 days,” Kleiner said.
Between Paramount’s Brad Grey and her close collaborator Pitt, Gardner said there was a “smorgasbord of helpful Brads,” before elaborating on her working relationship with Pitt.
“We’ve been doing this together for over 10 years, and Jeremy and I have never faced an inquisition about why we’re doing something — even if it’s something that basically isn’t going to pay us or might not find its audience in its initial theatrical release,” Gardner said. “Brad is a remarkable advocate for narrative and passion, and ‘Selma’ — like many other titles we’ve had the privilege to produce — is a result of that very safe harbor.”
“Having that advocacy throughout all the years has been crucial, because
Plan B has been involved since 2007, and Gardner said that until Oyelowo came along, there was no other actor officially on board.
“There were other filmmakers and versions of the movie, but there was no King,” explained Gardner, who saw Oyelowo’s audition back in 2009, back when Lee Daniels was attached to direct.
“David’s passion for Dr. King is deep and historical, and there’s a deep spiritual basis [surrounding it]. When David first read it, he was seized by the notion this would happen in some incarnation at some point,” Kleiner added. “For us, there’s this additional knowledge that it’s deeply personal for him and it’s powerful for us to be a part of this, personally and artistically.”
Earlier on Thursday, sources close to “Selma” told TheWrap that DuVernay was “disappointed” that screenwriter Paul Webb wouldn’t share credit with her. Gardner declined to address specifics, but summed up the situation thusly: “What I think is incontrovertible is that this movie is Ava’s movie. It wouldn’t exist without her and her partnership with David, and her contribution is literally in every frame. We were lucky enough to be witness to that.”