In the Works: Ava DuVernay to Direct Martin Luther King Biopic 'Selma'

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by Beth Hanna
July 12, 2013 11:44 AM
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Ava DuVernay
Wrtier-director Ava DuVernay has signed on to helm the biopic "Selma," about a key event in the Civil Rights Movement: Martin Luther King's voting rights campaign in 1965. DuVernay's leading man in her 2012 award-winning and critically acclaimed drama "Middle of Nowhere," David Oyelowo, is set to play King.

The project is timely: the 50th anniversary of MLK's "I Have a Dream" speech is in August of this year. Per Variety, DuVernay has been scouting locations and working on the script with scribe Paul Webb for the past couple of months (the screenplay has been on the Blacklist since 2007). Director Lee Daniels -- whose upcoming film "The Butler" is facing title woes -- was originally attached to the project.

DuVernay, the first African-American woman to win Sundance's Best Director Award (for "Middle of Nowhere"), was approached by producers, including Brad Pitt's banner Plan B and Pathe UK, to direct "Selma" after they saw her 2012 film. Most recently, DuVernay directed a documentary for ESPN on Venus Williams' fight for equal prize money at Wimbledon, "Venus Vs."

As the anniversary of "I Have a Dream" approaches, other MLK projects in the pipeline are Paul Greengrass and Scott Rudin's "Memphis," following the final days of King before his assassination in 1968; and Steven Spielberg has a long-gestating DreamWorks drama that centers on King's admiration for Mahatma Gandhi. 

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