'Selma' director makes history before awards are bestowed

Tue Jan 6, 2015 3:01pm EST
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By Mary Milliken

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The last film Ava DuVernay directed cost $200,000, while her new movie "Selma" was 100 times that.

It was a big step up for the former Hollywood publicist, one that has reaped recognition even before the awards season takes off at the Golden Globes on Sunday.

Regardless of whether she and the Martin Luther King Jr. biopic collect honors, DuVernay made history as the first African-American woman to be nominated for best director in the 72 years of the Globes. If she wins, she would be the first black man or woman to win a best movie director Golden Globe.

"I don't believe I am the first one who has made something worthy," DuVernay told Reuters. "That is where the bittersweet moment comes in. It is sweet for me in this moment and my mother is very happy, but certainly I know I stand on the shoulders of a lot of amazing women."

"Selma," which focuses on the civil rights leader's role in the seminal 1965 marches in Alabama for black voters' rights, was percolating for years and several directors had come and gone.

DuVernay, 42, got the call from the actor signed to play King, David Oyelowo, who was in her previous movie.

It seemed like destiny. No other filmmaker she knew had a father from the county where Selma is located, nor a mother who crossed the landmark bridge featured in the marches on her way to work.

"That was the entry point that allowed me to go from a $200,000 film to a $20 million film without a lot of jitters because ... I know that place, I know how to recreate the lives of black folk on film," DuVernay said.   Continued...

Director Ava DuVernay poses at the 26th Annual Palm Springs International Film Festival Awards Gala in Palm Springs, California, January 3, 2015. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok