'Selma' Director, Star Team for Hurricane Katrina Drama

Ava Duvernay, David Oyelowo
AP Images

The director is teaming with Participant Media to develop a film chronicling a sweeping love story and complex murder mystery set against the backdrop of the devastating hurricane of 2005.

Ava DuVernay is turning her attentions to Hurricane Katrina.

The Selma helmer is teaming with Participant Media to develop a narrative feature film chronicling a sweeping love story and complex murder mystery set against the backdrop of the devastating hurricane of 2005.

David Oyelowo, who has earned rave reviews for his turn as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma, is in negotiations to produce and star in the untitled film. The project will mark the third collaboration for DuVernay and Oyelowo (they also worked together on DuVernay's feature debut, Middle of Nowhere).

DuVernay will write, produce and direct the Hurricane Katrina film. She has become an in-demand helmer following the success of Selma, which has earned nearly $40 million at the box office to date. The film, which cost $20 million to make, was nominated for a best picture Oscar earlier this month, but DuVernay and the cast were snubbed, spawning criticism.

DuVernay previously worked with Participant on Middle of Nowhere, for which she won the 2012 Sundance Film Festival best director award. Participant Media's Jeff Skoll and Jonathan King will serve as executive producers on the new film.

“Hurricane Katrina is one of the most important social and environmental stories of our time,"
said King, who will oversee production for Participant. "Ava DuVernay has shown herself to be highly skilled at bringing intimacy and contemporary urgency to epic events. We have been looking for the right way to get back in business with Ava, and with David Oyelowo, and are proud to reteam with them on her original idea, which we believe will be a powerful film."

Added DuVernay: "I'm thrilled to reunite with my Participant family on this project and fortunate to work again with the always exquisite David Oyelowo. The story we're interested in will explore the complexities of intimate relationships within times of chaos, while also examining the chaos itself. I'm looking forward to the journey."

Oyelowo also stars in and produced two upcoming films: Captive opposite Kate Mara and Five Nights in Maine with Dianne Wiest. His next project is Queen of Katwe opposite Lupita Nyong’o. The Hurricane Katrina film will mark Oyelowo's fifth collaboration with Participant, following Middle of NowhereThe Help, Lincoln and A Most Violent Year.

Participant Media also is the company behind the Oscar-winning climate change documentary An Inconvenient Truth.

DuVernay is repped by Paradigm and Del Shaw Moonves. Oyelowo is handled by CAA, Inphenate, Hamilton Hodell in the U.K. and Schreck Rose.

Jeff Ivers and Gabe Brakin negotiated for Participant.

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