DuVernay and Oyelowo have worked in tandem before on her acclaimed indie breakthrough 2012 film "Middle of Nowhere" and most recently on her controversial, Oscar-nominated Martin Luther King, Jr. biopic "Selma." Oyelowo and DuVernay were widely expected to receive Academy Award nominations for their work on that period film, but were snubbed this month by the Oscars.
According to Variety, the upcoming film will be written and directed by DuVernay, and Oyelowo is in talks to star and produce. It is currently untitled and doesn't have an official release date, but will surely be highly anticipated in the wake of the success of "Selma."
The decision to set the film during the infamous 2005 hurricane, which claimed more than 1,000 lives and devastated the city of New Orleans is a surefire sign that DuVernay has no plans to start shying away from difficult subject matter.
“Hurricane Katrina is one of the most important social and environmental stories of our time,” said one of the upcoming project's producers, Participant Media's Jonathan King, according Variety. “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 re-team with them on her original idea, which we believe will be a powerful film.”
DuVernay's film will join a growing collection of films to address the ravages of Katrina. Spike Lee made two highly acclaimed HBO documentaries on the subject. The Brad Pitt drama "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" and the Denzel Washington action film "Deja Vu" also directly referenced the fallout after the storm. And while the Oscar-nominated "Beasts of the Southern Wild" was never explicitly labeled a Katrina film, its heart-wrenching tale of impoverished Bayou residents living in squalor conjured up memories of the hurricane's aftermath.
Meanwhile, DuVernay has made no secret about her desire to work with Oyelowo as often as she can. “Usually muses are hot, young things for some old-man director, so he’s my hot blond," the director told The Daily Beast. "He inspires my imagination because I know he can do anything I can think of.”