Last week, Ava DuVernay took “Selma” to screen at the White House 100 years after “Birth of a Nation” became the first film to do so. To say the least, the occasion meant a great deal to the filmmaker.
It seemed worth it to offer up her thoughts, which she posted to Instagram, in this space.
Here is a small note that they will never see, but I must post it anyway. Projecting a film that I made with my comrades in the White House for the President and the First Lady – for THIS President and First Lady – was as stunning an experience as I've ever known. The first film to ever screen at the White House was “Birth of a Nation” or as it was previously titled “The Klansman.” That was in 1915. Last Friday, “Selma,” a film about justice and dignity, unspooled in that same place in 2015. It was a moment I don't have to explain to most. A moment heavy with history and light with pure, pure joy all at once. President Obama's introduction of SELMA in the presidential screening room, the quality time he and the First Lady took with us before and after, the stories he shared with my editor and cinematographer, the praise she gave our dear cast, the handshake he gave my father, the hug she gave my mother, the laughter, the smiles, the extra time they gave us all long, long, long beyond when we were scheduled to go, the warmth, the respect, it was just beyond exquisite. “I'm proud of you,” she said to me. “We're proud of you,” he added. I'm proud too – of them, of us, of the film, of this moment in my life. Who knows what lies ahead. But what has already occurred is food and fuel and fire and freedom. To President Obama and First Lady Obama, it was a dream I never dreamt, a dream seared in my memory like a scar from a fight won. The kind you look at every now and then, and just nod and smile. I thank you. xo.
Also worth pointing out is that Kathryn Bigelow popped in on “Real Time with Bill Maher” Friday to discuss her elephant poaching short “Last Days,” but talk naturally turned to DuVernay's perceived snub and diversity in Hollywood. This clip unfortunately cuts off before that point (and I can't seem to find one that includes the full discussion), but here she is talking about her short: