September 26, 2008

'The Secret Life of Bees' Premieres at the Newseum

Actress Dakota Fanning portrays Lily Owens in the "The Secret Life of Bees." (Scott Henrichsen/Newseum)
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Actress Dakota Fanning portrays Lily Owens in the "The Secret Life of Bees." (Scott Henrichsen/Newseum)

Actress Dakota Fanning stars in "The Secret Life of Bees." (Scott Henrichsen/Newseum)
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Actress Dakota Fanning stars in "The Secret Life of Bees." (Scott Henrichsen/Newseum)

Producer Joe Pichirallo, singer/Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson, writer/director Gina Prince Bythewood and singer/Oscar nominee Queen Latifah. (Scott Henrichsen/Newseum)
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Producer Joe Pichirallo, singer/Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson, writer/director Gina Prince Bythewood and singer/Oscar nominee Queen Latifah. (Scott Henrichsen/Newseum)

Actor Tristan Wilds of "The Wire" and "90210" fame plays Zachary Taylor in "The Secret Life of Bees." (Scott Henrichsen/Newseum)
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Actor Tristan Wilds of "The Wire" and "90210" fame plays Zachary Taylor in "The Secret Life of Bees." (Scott Henrichsen/Newseum)

Actor Nate Parker plays Neil in "The Secret Life of Bees." (Scott Henrichsen/Newseum)
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Actor Nate Parker plays Neil in "The Secret Life of Bees." (Scott Henrichsen/Newseum)

Oscar nominee Sophie Okonedo portrays May Boatwright in "The Secret Life of Bees." (Scott Henrichsen/Newseum)
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Oscar nominee Sophie Okonedo portrays May Boatwright in "The Secret Life of Bees." (Scott Henrichsen/Newseum)

Singer and Oscar nominee Queen Latifah portrays August Boatwright in "The Secret Life of Bees." (Scott Henrichsen/Newseum)
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Singer and Oscar nominee Queen Latifah portrays August Boatwright in "The Secret Life of Bees." (Scott Henrichsen/Newseum)

Sophie Okonedo, Tristan Wilds, writer/director Gina Prince-Bythewood, Dakota Fanning and Nate Parker. (Scott Henrichsen/Newseum)
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Sophie Okonedo, Tristan Wilds, writer/director Gina Prince-Bythewood, Dakota Fanning and Nate Parker. (Scott Henrichsen/Newseum)

Dakota Fanning and Jennifer Hudson. (Scott Henrichsen/Newseum)
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Dakota Fanning and Jennifer Hudson. (Scott Henrichsen/Newseum)

The Newseum rolled out its red carpet Sept. 25 for the Washington, D.C., premiere of Fox Searchlight Pictures’s "The Secret Life of Bees," opening in theaters Oct. 17.

"Bees" drew stars Queen Latifah, Jennifer Hudson, Dakota Fanning, Sophie Okonedo, Nate Parker and Tristan Wilds and hundreds of moviegoers to the Newseum’s state-of-the-art Walter and Leonore Annenberg Theater.

Fanning plays a troubled white teen taken in by three black sisters who sell honey in South Carolina in 1964, just as the Civil Rights Act is passed.

The book is based on the best-selling novel by Sue Monk Kidd. She called the timing of the movie, weeks before a presidential election with the first black major-party candidate, "an interesting intersection. There’s a voter registration theme. I hope the movie will inspire people to vote."

Fanning, 14, said she is three and a half years from a voting booth, but as a native of Georgia, she was well aware of the era the movie reflects.

"My grandmother grew up in this time period. The movie can hopefully teach people things as well," she said.

London-born Okonedo said filming in North Carolina during presidential primary season made the movie feel "very relevant. It was the talk of the set."

Tristan Wilds, 19, will be voting in his first election. As to who the next president will be, Wilds said cagily, "There’s going to be a change in America, that’s all I can say."

To learn more about the civil rights era, visit the Newseum’s News Corporation News History Gallery, with historic newspapers, artifacts and films about that time period.

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