The Film Institute at Montclair State University continued their collaboration with African American studies and the African American caucus by presenting “Selma” on Monday night. This is the second installment in their Black History Film Series taking place in the School of Communication and Media presentation hall.
Students and faculty were eager to screen and discuss the second film in this month’s series focusing on educating and shedding light on important African American figures in history.
“Selma” follows the 1965 efforts led by Dr. Martin Luther King for voting rights in Alabama.
The film bluntly and honestly portrayed the brutality and inequality experienced by people of color in 1965 Alabama and had no trouble resonating with a modern audience.
The cast’s ability to portray a sense of hardship and struggle was effective in its ability to pull audiences into the on-screen events while also allowing the people watching to really feel the experiences with the characters.
Emily Frias, a communication and media arts freshman at Montclair State, felt like she gained a whole new understanding of the events while watching the film.
“I felt like a fly on the wall, like I was actually with them,” Frias said. “I could feel their fear as they walked across the bridge. You learn about the civil rights [movement] early in your education, but you don’t realize how real it is until you see it with your own eyes.”
Zach Abbruscato, a junior film major, feels that the movie holds a lot of meaning.
“I thought it was powerful and revolutionary,” Abbruscato said. “It’s a shame a movie so important didn’t get enough love at the Oscars.”
History is an important aspect of the series hosted by the Film Institute. Film critic Dwight Brown was not hesitant in pointing out the historical inaccuracies in “Selma.”
Brown was quick to share that the rights to King’s speeches were owned by Steven Spielberg, among other people all of his speeches in the film were fabricated by the director and screenwriter making the film in Brown’s opinion “so genius.”
Beyond this, Ava DuVernay, the film’s director, didn’t take many other significant creative liberties.
Brown also pointed out that the film lost its director later during the process of filming and DuVernay was brought on under a time crunch. Brown also credits this as to why the film didn’t get much appreciation at the Oscars, aside from the academy’s nod to the film’s original song.
After his factual breakdown, Brown moderated with attendees of the screening where people could voice their opinions and feelings about the film. The events that unfolded on the screen hit home for everybody but for some, it hit closer than others.
Dr. Reginia Judge of Montclair State’s justice studies department was in attendance and shared that she was from Selma, Alabama, where the events of the film took place.
“My aunts and uncles were participants in the voting rights movements,” Judge said. “[Judge’s aunt] was the youngest person to walk from Selma to Montgomery.”
The aunt Judge referred to was Lynda Blackmon Lowery, author of “Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom,” which went to show how close the events of “Selma” still are to current times.
The screening of “Selma” and subsequent discussion truly resonated with those in attendance and reminded everyone the importance of knowing what has occurred in the past so history doesn’t repeat itself in the future.
The Black History Film Series will come to a close with the screening of “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” on Feb. 24.