By Hanna Rantala
LONDON (Reuters) – Director Melina Matsoukas said making the jump from directing music videos for Beyonce to directing “Queen & Slim” for the big screen has given her the chance to tell what she calls a “necessary” story about “black people, my people.”
Matsoukas was on the red carpet for the premiere of her directorial debut in London, just days before the BAFTA awards, Britain’s acting awards, which have been criticized by some for their lack of diversity.
As the BAFTA’s all-white line-up of nominees in the acting categories trends on social media as #BaftasSoWhite, audiences looking for more diversity will find it in “Queen & Slim.”
Matsoukas’ drama is about a black couple whose Tinder date ends with the duo on the run after they kill a white police officer in self-defense.
“When I read the script it was everything I had been looking for in a feature – it was political, it had something to say, it felt really necessary and it was entertaining,” Matsoukas told Reuters at the film’s London premiere.
“It also represented a community of people – black people, my people – that we don’t always see on screen and I really wanted to tell our stories to our lens, unfiltered, and we were able to do that.”
Actors Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner-Smith joined Matsoukas on the red carpet to celebrate ahead of the film’s release in Britain on Jan. 31.
The film opens with Kaluuya and Turner-Smith’s characters “Slim” and “Queen” on an awkward date that appears to be going nowhere.
Driving home along a deserted Cleveland street after dinner, they are pulled over by a lone white police officer and become involved in an altercation that results in Queen being shot in the leg and Slim killing the policeman in self-defence.
Turner-Smith said she hoped the subject matter started conversations for people.
“The film doesn’t really have an answer to any of the issues it raises, it’s really just bringing them up to light and talking about it, that trauma, that tension, that fear, that black people live in and at the same time being able to exist and find love,” she said.
The film opened in the United States in late November 2019.
(Reporting by Hanna Rantala in London; Writing by Sarah Young; Editing by Matthew Lewis)