Loving hits theaters Nov. 4

By Eliza Berman
Updated July 12, 2016 11:00 AM
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Credit: Focus Features

In 1958, Richard Loving and Mildred Jeter did what two people who wanted to build a life together might be expected to do: they got married.

But because he was white and she was black, their marriage, performed in Washington, D.C., wasn’t valid in the state of Virginia, where they lived.

Nine years later, their case would go all the way to the Supreme Court in Loving v. Virginia, which struck down anti-miscegenation laws across the country, enshrining a landmark victory for the civil rights movement.

Now their story is the subject of a feature film, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May and the trailer for which premieres on TIME (and shared with PEOPLE). Written and directed by Jeff Nichols (Midnight Special, Mud) and starring Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga, Loving is a quiet film about a couple who lived quietly but, in their own quest for legitimacy in the eyes of the law, paved the way for countless others to live and love freely, as well.

The film also features a small role by frequent Nichols collaborator Michael Shannon as Grey Villet, the LIFE photographer whose intimate portraits of the Lovings and their three children helped present the family to the magazine s largely white readership as no different from their own families.

As the film presents setback after setback for the Lovings, their steadfast determination to be allowed to live together in their home state becomes its beating heart.

As Negga’s Mildred puts it in the trailer: “We may lose the small battles but win the big war.”

Loving hits theaters Nov. 4.