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Oprah Winfrey stars in and produced “Selma.” | Alberto E. Rodriguez via Getty Images

An unfinished cut of the upcoming civil rights film “Selma” screened to a capacity audience at the AFI Fest in Los Angeles on Tuesday, and the film received an emotional standing ovation at its conclusion — and that was before Oprah Winfrey even came out on stage.

Winfrey produced the film and plays the small supporting role of protester Annie Lee Cooper on screen, but she wasn’t always so keen on being so involved. Winfrey told director Ava DuVernay and producers Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner (“12 Years A Slave”) that she would do whatever she could to help “Selma” get made. They eventually wore her down.

“I was already putting my two cents in all the time and they said why don’t you just join us as a producer?” Winfrey told the audience. She had become fast friends with “Selma” star David Oyelowo while working on “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” together — they play mother and son in that movie — and his presence in the role of Martin Luther King Jr. was almost immediately evident. It convinced Winfrey the film would work.

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