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‘Selma’ Looks to Build Awards Buzz via AFI FEST First Look

'Selma' Looks to Build Awards Buzz via AFI FEST First Look

How do you gain media buzz during a crowded awards race when your movie isn’t finished yet?

Both Twentieth Century Fox and Paramount are solving that problem by screening footage of their incomplete movies. Fox has invited media over to the lot to see 37 minutes from the Bible epic “Exodus: Gods and Kings” (december 11) starring Christian Bale (who participated in one Q & A) and Joel Edgerton as Moses and Ramses, respectively, hosted on video by director Ridley Scott. The CG-enhanced battles and settings were stunning indeed. But we still need to see how the entire movie plays to know whether it crosses over from commercial holiday fare to an awards contender like Scott’s Best Picture-winner “Gladiator.”

And on Tuesday, November 11 at the Egyptian Theatre, Paramount is showing a 30-minute First Look at Ava DuVernay’s period biopic “Selma” (December 25) starring David Oyelowo as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. If done right, this film should be a soft lob down the middle for the liberal Academy members who voted “12 Years a Slave” Best Picture last year. In fact, “Selma” is backed by “12 Years a Slave” producer Brad Pitt’s Plan B, Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Films and Pathe. A conversation will follow the screening with Oyelowo, DuVernay, Winfrey and Plan B’s Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner.

DuVernay, whose Sundance award-winning “The Middle of Nowhere” also starred Oyelowo, focuses on the intense three months in 1965 when King led the controversial campaign to obtain equal voting rights. His long march from Selma to Montgomery yielded President Lyndon B. Johnson (Tom Wilkinson) signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the most significant victory for the Civil Rights Movement. Paul Webb wrote the film.

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