January 26, 2015 / 7:24 PM / 3 years ago

'Selma' director DuVernay to make Hurricane Katrina feature film

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Ava DuVernay, the director behind the Oscar-nominated Martin Luther King Jr. biopic “Selma,” will write, produce and direct a feature film set in the time of Hurricane Katrina, the company backing the film said on Monday.

Ava DuVernay, director of the film "Selma," poses in Los Angeles, California, December 23, 2014. REUTERS/Kevork Djansezian

David Oyelowo, who plays King in “Selma,” is in talks to co-produce and star in the film, described by Participant Media as “a sweeping love story and complex murder mystery,” set during the time of the 2005 hurricane that slammed into the U.S. Gulf Coast and deluged the city of New Orleans after levees broke.

DuVernay, the first African American woman nominated for a Golden Globe for directing, was hired by Participant Media, which was founded in 2004 by billionaire and former eBay President Jeff Skoll to produce entertainment programming that inspires social change.

The announcement comes less than two weeks after she was passed over for an Oscar nomination for best director, an exclusion that fueled a debate over the lack of diversity in this year’s Academy Awards nominations.

“Selma,” a $20 million movie from Paramount Pictures, did secure a Best Picture Oscar nomination.

“Ava DuVernay has shown herself to be highly skilled at bringing intimacy and contemporary urgency to epic events,” Jonathan King, Participant’s executive vice president of narrative film, said in a statement.

Katrina has not featured widely in the film world, especially in feature form. Director Spike Lee made the documentary, “When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts,” which aired on HBO in 2006.

DuVernay said the story “will explore the complexities of intimate relationships within times of chaos, while also examining the chaos itself.”

Reporting by Mary Milliken; Editing by Bernadette Baum

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