The questions we should be asking about ‘Selma’

January 5, 2015 9:53 PM

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Since its December 25 release “Selma,” Ava DuVernay’s movie about Martin Luther King, Jr., President Johnson and the leadup to the Voting Rights Act of 1965 has been under attack for some of the ways DuVernay and her screenwriter Paul Webb present this immensely complicated period in American history. In the pages of The Post, Joseph Califano, who served as Johnson’s top domestic aide, suggested that because of some of these decisions, “The movie should be ruled out this Christmas and during the ensuing awards season.”

I’m all for close reading of how film and other fiction approaches politics, and for deeper attention to the Civil Rights movement, particularly at a moment when judges and legislatures are dismantling some of the advances King and his colleagues won. But Califano’s approach, besides setting a odd s...

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