Ava DuVernay's civil rights drama "Selma" will open the 26th Palm Springs International Film Festival, which is set for Jan. 2-12, organizers announced Tuesday.
Starring David Oyelowo as Martin Luther King Jr., "Selma" chronicles the three months in 1965 when King organized a series of marches through the segregated South that led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act. The film hits theaters Christmas Day.
"The timing could hardly be better with the upcoming 50-year anniversary of the historical voting rights marches from Selma to Montgomery," festival artistic director Helen du Toit said in a statement. "On a personal note, it is heartening that for the second consecutive year our opening night film is directed by a black woman. That, surely, is a sign of progress and a reason for hope."
Amma Asante's "Belle" kicked off last year's festival.
The 2015 festival is to wrap up with Francois Girard's boarding-school tale "Boychoir," making its U.S. premiere. The film stars Garrett Wareing as a troubled 12-year-old boy who gets accepted at an elite music school and engages in a battle of wills with a gruff choirmaster, played by Dustin Hoffman.
This year, the festival will also spotlight Central and Eastern European filmmaking in a program titled Eastern Promises, featuring 20 films. Among them are Kornel Mundruczo's "White God," Pawel Pawlikowski's "Ida" and Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy's "The Tribe."
As previously announced, the festival will honor Oyelowo as well as Julianne Moore, Eddie Redmayne, Richard Linklater, Rosamund Pike, Reese Witherspoon, J.K. Simmons and the cast of "The Imitation Game."
For more information, go to www.psfilmfest.org.