AFI Movie Club: LOVING – American Film Institute

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AFI Movie Club: LOVING

LOVING stars Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga as the couple at the center of Loving v. Virginia – a landmark case in which the Supreme Court ruled that laws banning interracial marriage are unconstitutional.

 

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LOVING – Reelgood


Watch the full conversation with LOVING star Ruth Negga and Shawn Edwards:

Watch LOVING writer/director Jeff Nichols talk about one of his favorite scenes in the movie and explain what inspired him to write the film in the first place:

Watch cinematic milestones from decades past that have led to today’s story:

Movie Trivia about TODAY’S FILM

DID YOU KNOW? The real-life U.S. Supreme Court decision of Loving v. Virginia – argued on April 10, 1967, and decided June 12, 1967 – unanimously held that Virginia’s “Racial Integrity Act of 1924,” which forbade marriage between people of different races, was unconstitutional. 

DID YOU KNOW? The Loving’s only surviving child, Peggy Loving Fortune, who worked as a consultant on the film has said of her parents, “I’m very proud of them. To me, they set the world free to be with whomever they want. I feel it’s what they were put on this earth for.”   

DID YOU KNOW? Director Jeff Nichols used much of the real-life dialogue that was captured in Nancy Buirski’s documentary, THE LOVING STORY. Because of this, the Writer’s Branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences determined that LOVING should compete in the Adapted Screenplay category at the Academy Awards®. 

DID YOU KNOW? After seeing Nancy Buirski’s documentary THE LOVING STORY, actor Colin Firth and his production partner approached director Jeff Nichols to dramatize the story. 

DID YOU KNOW? Nichols claims that when he sent the trailer of THE LOVING STORY documentary to his wife, she emailed him back, “I really love you, but if you don’t make this movie, I’m going to divorce you.” 

DID YOU KNOW? Joel Edgerton, who stars as Richard Loving, and Michael Shannon, who played photojournalist Grey Villet, previously worked together on Jeff Nichols’ MIDNIGHT SPECIAL. 

DID YOU KNOW? Director Jeff Nichols grew up in Arkansas and went to Little Rock Central High, which was the site of a desegregation crisis in 1957. 

DID YOU KNOW? The film production shot outside the actual Virginia jail where the Lovings had been incarcerated, and inside the actual courthouse where they had pleaded guilty to the “crime” of being married. The Lovings’ younger son, Donald, and their baby in the film were also played by relatives of the real Mildred Loving. 

DID YOU KNOW? One of the first experiences Jeff Nichols had with the film was getting a call from director Martin Scorsese, a “friend of the project” who was eager to see THE LOVING STORY turned into a feature. Nichols recalls pacing in his backyard talking to his personal hero about his vision for the film, calling the moment “surreal.” 

DID YOU KNOW? LOVING was the first feature film to screen at the National Museum of African American History in Washington, DC.   

DID YOU KNOW? The film was nominated for the Academy Award® for Best Actress for Ruth Negga who played the quiet but resolute Mildred Loving. 

Learn more at the AFI Catalog

The movie doesn’t end at the credits: Family-friendly Discussion Questions

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-Why did laws banning interracial marriage exist for so long? What was the fear behind these laws if interracial marriage were to be legalized? 

-What similar, parallel fears still exist today? 

-If you were in the Lovings’ position in the South, do you think you would have been brave enough to face social exclusion and endangerment to fight for your right to marry the person you loved? 

-What is miscegenation? How did the film industry perpetuate the fear and stigma surrounding miscegenation with the creation of the Hays Code? 

-Aside from their notable court case, Richard and Mildred Loving were relatively unpolitical. Were you surprised by how understated the film was compared to other Civil Rights biopics? 

-Ruth Negga is an Ethiopian-Irish actress while Joel Edgerton hails from Australia. How were they able to capture the American nuances of Richard and Mildred Loving? 

-What did you think of the choice to have Jeff Nichols direct LOVING? How did his background prepare him for the job? How do you think a person of color might have told the story differently? 

-Michael Shannon plays real-life photojournalist Grey Villet in the film. Although the Lovings were shy of publicity, they allowed him to photograph them for a Life Magazine assignment. How are images critical to create a path toward progress? What did these images mean for interracial couples across the U.S.? 

-What obstacles do interracial couples still face to this day? 

-Director Jeff Nichols said in an interview for the film, “Germany has spent a long time coming to terms with its horrors—but in America we’ve never really faced the horrors of slavery and everything that came in its wake. It’s like a wound. Sunlight has to get in there for it to heal.” Do you feel like the U.S. is on a path forward in terms of social equity and inclusion? Why or why not? 

-How did Mildred Loving expand her belief in the right to love whomever you choose beyond race on the 40th anniversary of the Loving vs. Virginia Supreme Court decision? In a statement she said, “I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry. Government has no business imposing some people’s religious beliefs over others. Especially if it denies people’s civil rights. I am still not a political person, but I am proud that Richard’s and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness, and the family that so many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all.” 

-How would you rate LOVING? 

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