Filmmakers use primary sources to ensure the historical accuracy of their films and to make it appear authentic.


1. With a partner, make a list of primary sources that you think filmmakers might use to help them represent the Southern States of America in the 1960s in a believable, authentic way. Where might they find these sources?

2. Now look at the links below about another protest ten years earlier in 1955 – the Montgomery bus boycott. What information would you use from these sources to help you recreate a scene for a film about this event?

Montgomery Bus Boycott websiteInformation from Stanford University King Institute

Based on these choices, write a short paragraph describing the scene you wish to create or storyboard it using this storyboard template

3. Now look at these still images from the film Selma. What visual details can you spot that you think are authentic representations of this period? Think about viewpoint, perspective, use of light and colour.

4. To analyse more fully the authenticity of these images, go to the US Library of Congress online collections and see if you can source images that are similar. With a partner, compare the images you have found with those displayed here. What are the similarities and differences between the primary sources and the filmic reconstructions?