Days after the international premiere of Selma at the 65th Berlin International Film Festival—the Berlinale—the U.S. Embassy in Berlin organized an exclusive advance screening of the historical drama Selma at the Zoo Palast cinema on February 19. Nearly 250 students from Berlin-based schools and fellows of different organizations, such as the Hertie Foundation and the Deutschlandstiftung Integration, accepted Ambassador Emerson’s invitation. Set during the height of the American Civil Rights movement in 1965, Selma depicts the historic march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama to the state capital of Montgomery to secure voting rights for black people. The movie informed the audience about a defining episode in the life of the legendary civil rights campaigner, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In his remarks, Ambassador Emerson highlighted the recent 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s visit to West and East Berlin in September 1964, and elaborated on the effect this visit had on the citizens of a divided city, Germany, and Europe as a whole. In his interviews to the members of the local, national, and international press, Ambassador Emerson also touched upon the future and made clear that although both U.S. and German societies have made great progress, there is still hatred, intolerance, and discrimination, and films like Selma can serve as a bridge to long-overdue conversations on race, inequality, and injustice in both countries.
Selma was directed by U.S. filmmaker Ava DuVernay and was nominated for two Academy Awards in the categories of “Best Motion Picture of the Year” and “Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures” for the original song “Glory.” Selma won an Oscar in the latter category and the prize was bestowed on John Legend and rapper Common at the 87th Academy Awards on February 22, 2015.
The exclusive preview was made possible by the generous support of the film’s distributor, Studiocanal.