Melina Matsoukas' "Queen & Slim" To Open AFI Fest
Jodie Turner-Smith (l) and Daniel Kaluuya in "Queen & Slim" (photo by Campbell Addy/courtesy of Universal Pictures)
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The 33rd AFI Fest will open with the world premiere of Makeready and Universal Pictures’ Queen & Slim. Directed by two-time Grammy® winner Melina Matsoukas (AFI Class of 2005) and written by Emmy® winner Lena Waithe from a story by Waithe and James Frey, the film is a consciousness-raising love story that confronts the staggering human toll of racism and the life-shattering price of violence. The film stars Academy Award® nominee Daniel Kaluuya, Jodie Turner-Smith, Bokeem Woodbine, Academy Award® nominee Chloë Sevigny, Flea, Sturgill Simpson and Indya Moore. Matsoukas was awarded AFI’s Franklin J. Schaffner Alumni Medal earlier this year. The Opening Night Gala screening will take place Thursday, November 14, 2019, at the historic TCL Chinese Theatre, followed by an after-party at the Roosevelt Hotel.

AFI president and CEO Bob Gazzale said, “Melina’s powerful voice is the embodiment of the AFI ideal, for we believe in the revolutionary power of visual storytelling to share perspectives, inspire empathy and drive culture forward.  We are honored to shine a proper light upon her and Queen & Slim.”

For Matsoukas, the AFI world premiere represents a homecoming. “I feel privileged to present my first feature film, Queen & Slim, at the opening night of AFI Fest, a place that is integral to my story as a filmmaker.  The tools I learned while receiving my Master of Fine Arts from AFI inform my artistry every day, and to have this moment come full circle is deeply moving,” said Matsoukas.  “My mission as an artist is to create change in the world.  My time at AFI further instilled the power of film as a tool for change, and I hope that Queen & Slim sparks dialogue, leaving viewers thinking about themselves and the world long after leaving their seats.”

Said Michael Lumpkin, director of AFI Festivals: “The film is an outstanding debut--a fearless, gorgeous and powerful cinematic achievement that speaks, better than any film this year, to the effects of racism and violence in our country today.”

While on a forgettable first date together in Ohio, a black man (Kaluuya) and a black woman (Turner-Smith), are pulled over for a minor traffic infraction. The situation escalates, with sudden and tragic results, when the man kills the police officer in self-defense. Afraid for their lives, the man--a retail employee--and the woman--a criminal defense lawyer--are forced to go on the run.  But the incident is captured on video and goes viral, and the couple unwittingly become a symbol of trauma, terror, grief and pain for people across the country. 

As they drive, these two unlikely fugitives will discover themselves and each other in the most dire and desperate of circumstances and will forge a deep and powerful love that will reveal their shared humanity and shape the rest of their lives.

Queen & Slim will be released on November 27, 2019.

AFI Fest 2019 takes place November 14-21, 2019, at historic theaters in Los Angeles.  Screenings, Galas and other events will be held at the TCL Chinese Theatre, the TCL Chinese 6 Theatres and the Hollywood Roosevelt.  The full festival lineup and schedule will be unveiled in October.

Audi returns for the 16th year as the exclusive Presenting Sponsor of AFI FEST. Audi also supports AFI through the Audi Fellowship for Women, a full-tuition scholarship created in 2017 to support promising female directors entering the AFI Conservatory. This Fellowship is part of the Audi commitment to drive progress and a landmark investment in the future of the storytelling community.

Passes will be available at on September 4. Individual tickets will be available for purchase for AFI members beginning October 29 and for the general public on October 30.


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