Crime thriller “Queen & Slim” will have its world premiere on the opening night of AFI FEST 2019. The movie is the feature directorial debut of Melina Matsoukas, who graduated from the American Film Institute in 2005. Matsoukas has earned directorial acclaim over the years for her work on music videos like Rihanna’s “We Found Love” and Beyonce’s “Formation,” plus television episodes of “Insecure” and “Master of None.” “Queen & Slim” was written by Emmy winner Lena Waithe and stars newcomer Jodie Turner-Smith opposite Daniel Kaluuyra, a Best Actor Oscar nominee for Jordan Peele’s “Get Out.”
AFI Fest’s official synopsis for “Queen & Slim” reads: “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 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.”
“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,” AFI President and CEO Bob Gazzale said in a statement. “We are honored to shine a proper light upon her and ‘Queen & Slim.'”
AFI Festivals director Michael Lumpkin added, “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.”
Universal Pictures will release “Queen & Slim” in theaters November 27. AFI FEST 2019 takes place November 14-21. The full festival lineup and schedule will be unveiled in October.