In the movie Loving, which debuted at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, the director Jeff Nichols tells the story of Richard and Mildred Loving, the interracial couple whose 1958 marriage broke Virginia’s anti-miscegenation law and eventually led to the landmark Supreme Court ruling that deemed marriage a human right.
“I truly believe this is one of the most pure love stories in American history,” Jeff Nichols said at a press conference at Cannes about the white Southern construction worker, played by the Australian actor Joel Edgerton, and his negro wife, played by the Ethiopian actress Ruth Negga.
The Lovings wed in Washington, and returned to their native Virginia, only to be arrested. Their prison sentences were suspended on the condition that they leave the state for 25 years, a ruling they eventually defied. As the civil rights movement gained momentum, the A.C.L.U. took on their case, and in 1967 the Supreme Court ruled in their favor in Loving v. Virginia.
“The court case is fascinating; how these lawyers got this case to the Supreme Court could make a movie in and of itself,” said Nichols, who also wrote the screenplay. “I didn’t want to make that movie,” he added. “I wanted to make a movie about two people in love.”