Esther Zuckerman
January 08, 2015 AT 03:40 PM EST

Though Ava DuVernay’s film Selma takes place in 1965 and looks at Martin Luther King, Jr.’s activism that led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of that year, it feels more vital than most historical dramas, given present-day events in places like Ferguson, Missouri. 

DuVernay discusses the film’s resonance in a clip from DuVernay and star David Oyelowo’s new interview with Time. “Selma is not a film that takes place in the context of history,” DuVernay explained. “You watch those images and you understand how it feels to be someone in 1965 being shocked about what they see on TV because it just happened to you in August.”

Meanwhile, Oyelowo talks about how he, as someone from the United Kingdom, approached playing King.

Selma opens wide on Friday.

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