As protests and curfews continue across the country, amid unrest over police brutality and the death of George Floyd, black filmmakers are doing their part to help raise awareness about systemic racism and historic injustices.
On Friday, director Ava DuVernay and Paramount announced that her award-winning 2014 film, Selma -- which tells the story of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement of the mid-1960s -- would be available for free online rental throughout the month of June. "We’ve gotta understand where we’ve been to strategize where we’re going," DuVernay shared on Twitter. "History helps us create the blueprint. Onward."
"55 years after the historic marches from Selma, as we witness the expression of decades of collective pain, we should reflect on Dr. King’s words: “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,' Paramount Home Entertainment said in their statement.
"We hope this small gesture will encourage people throughout the country to examine our nation’s history and reflect on the ways that racial injustice has infected our society. The key message of Selma is the importance of equality, dignity and justice for all people. Clearly, that message is as vital today as it was in 1965."
On Tuesday, Warner Bros. announced that Just Mercy would also be available for free online rental throughout the month of June, in order to promote education about racism and injustices within the legal system. The 2019 film, directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, stars Jamie Foxx as wrongfully convicted death row inmate Walter McMillian and Michael B. Jordan as defense attorney Bryan Stevenson, in a real-life story about fighting for justice in an unbalanced system.
"We believe in the power of story. #JustMercy is one resource we can offer to those who are interested in learning more about the systemic racism that plagues our society," reads the announcement on the film's Twitter account. "For the month of June, #JustMercy will be available to rent for free on digital platforms in the US."
"To actively be part of the change our country is so desperately seeking, we encourage you to learn more about our past and the countless injustices that have led us to where we are today," the statement continued. "Thank you to the artists, storytellers, and advocates who helped make this film happen. Watch with your family, friends and allies."
We believe in the power of story. #JustMercy is one resource we can offer to those who are interested in learning more about the systemic racism that plagues our society. For the month of June, #JustMercy will be available to rent for free on digital platforms in the US. @eji_orgpic.twitter.com/3B2IHMNk7E
Those interested can find further information on the real-life Bryan Stevenson -- who penned the memoir of the same name that the movie is based on -- and his ongoing work at the Equal Justice Initiative at eji.org.
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'Just Mercy' Trailer: Jamie Foxx and Michael B. Jordan Star in Inspiring True Story
ET spoke with Foxx at the Los Angeles community screening of the film at the Cinemark theater in Baldwin Hills back in January, where he opened up about why Just Mercystruck such a personal chord with him.
"You know, my father went to jail for $25 worth of illegal substances for seven years," Foxx shared. "He educated people for 25 years in the school system. The very kids he taught, he was sitting next to [in jail]."
"When we watched this movie, he says, 'Wow, man,' and, 'It's an ocean of us out there. It's millions of us going through the same thing every single day,'" he added. "So I took that experience of my father when I was playing Walter McMillian and put in my mind that Michael B. Jordan playing Bryan Stevenson [was] me walking in saying to my father, 'Everything is gonna be OK.'"
"Luckily we get a chance to have a happy ending," he said. "But there's so many people that don't get that opportunity."