LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The tale depicted in "Loving", a movie based on the true story of an interracial couple sentenced to prison for getting married in 1950s America, still resonates today, members of the cast said at its U.S. premiere on Thursday.

The movie centers on the story of Richard Loving, a white man, and Mildred Loving, a black woman, who left their home state of Virginia, where inter-racial marriage was illegal, to wed in Washington, D.C. in 1958.

Upon their return, they were first sentenced to prison, then banished. They moved back to Washington but struggled to adapt to life there and eventually filed a lawsuit against the government of Virginia. The seminal 1967 Supreme Court ruling that ended their case legalized interracial marriage throughout the United States.

"Two human beings doing something together in a private space that is non-threatening and non-destructive and yet they're unable to do so," said Australian actor Joel Edgerton at the premiere, commenting on a debate surrounding same-sex marriage in his home country.

"It's really not a period film. It's very much a film about now."

The film received widespread acclaim at the Cannes and Toronto film festivals this year and is already tipped for Oscar success. American director Jeff Nichols, known for the 2012 film "Mud", and British producer and actor Colin Firth were both on the red carpet in Los Angeles.

"I think a lot of people have come out of this film and gone 'Wow! I feel like I've been very complacent' and they're thinking about things and entertaining things they wouldn't have done beforehand, and I think that's the point of art, to shift a consciousness," said Ruth Negga, who plays Mildred in the movie.

(Reporting By Reuters Television; Writing by Adela Suliman; Editing by Marie-Louise Gumuchian and Hugh Lawson)