‘Queen & Slim’ Director Says Golden Globes Voters Refused to Watch Film: ‘It’s Infuriating’

Melina Matsoukas' feature directorial debut is nearing $30 million at the domestic box office.
"Queen & Slim"
"Queen & Slim"

In the aftermath of the 2020 Golden Globes stirring up controversy for not nominating any women in the Best Director and Best Screenplay categories, “Queen & Slim” director Melina Matsoukas is speaking out against the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA). Matsoukas tells Variety the HFPA, whose members vote for the Golden Globes, refused to watch “Queen & Slim” and skipped multiple FYC screenings that were set for the movie.

“We held three screenings for the HFPA and almost no members attended,” Matsoukas said. “For me, it’s reflective of their voting body. It’s not reflective of the society in which we live in or the industry as it stands today. They don’t value the stories that represent all of us, and those stories are so often disregarded and discredited, as are their filmmakers.”

Matsoukas added, “It’s extremely discouraging. It’s extremely infuriating. And it just represents an archaic system that is full of people who don’t value us.”

An HFPA representative told Variety that “Queen & Slim” screeners were sent to voters and they had the option of watching the movie at home instead of attending an FYC screening. The HFPA said in a statement it “maintains that ‘Queen & Slim’ was in the conversation amongst the membership.”

Sources tell Variety otherwise, as one screening of “Queen & Slim” was reportedly attended by only four voting members. The movie earned positive reviews and has been a financial hit for Universal Pictures with nearly $30 million at the domestic box office. The studio reportedly sent out more than 60,000 “Queen & Slim” screeners to various guilds and journalists, including the HFPA. A source close to Universal told Variety that HFPA interest in “Queen & Slim” seemed so low that it canceled a Golden Globes press conference for the film scheduled for November 16.

Variety reports: “According to those familiar with the studio’s process, the feeling was that there was no reason to ask the cast to talk about the movie since they didn’t think voters had seen it.”

Matsoukas also revealed an uncomfortable moment she had at an HFPA fundraiser earlier this year in which an HFPA member approached her with a movie idea and used “a very archaic term in the pitch.” The director said, “I found it quite offensive and disrespectful to me as a woman of color.”

As for whether or not women directors will break into the Oscar race, Matsoukas said, “I think there’s an extremely long way to go. I’m always going to be hopeful because that’s who I am, but I don’t have a lot of faith in any institutions in this country because they have always discredited and disregarded work by women and people of color. The fact that five women have ever been nominated for directing in the lifetime of the Academy is infuriating. It’s obviously very imbalanced. Until the body of the people voting on the projects reflects our society and the people making these projects, there will be no change.”

“Queen & Slim” is now playing in theaters nationwide. Head over to Variety’s website to read more from Matsoukas. IndieWire has reached out to the HFPA for further comment.

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