Usually when you are saying you are just trying to make a “truthful, quiet” movie, studio marketers will run the other way. But Jeff Nichols, writer-director of Focus Features’ Lovingcame to the DGA theater earlier this month for the all-day The Contenders Presented By Deadline to tell a packed audience of Oscar and key guild voters that is exactly the film he felt he had to make.

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The 1950s- and ’60s -set story of Richard and Mildred Loving, who were jailed in Virginia because of their interracial marriage, holds great weight since it went all the way to the Supreme Court in 1967 and changed the ways states could deal with marriage rights and equality. But as Nichols says, the Lovings are quiet, simple people, and their story deserved that kind of dignified screen treatment. He also talks about casting this quintessential Southern story with an Australian actor in Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga, an Ethiopian-born actress who grew up in Ireland.

Check out our conversation above.