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Lena Waithe and Melina Matsoukas’ ‘Queen & Slim’ will world-premiere at AFI Fest 2019

Jodie Turner-Smith and Daniel Kaluuya in Universal’s “Queen & Slim.” The film will screen its world premiere during the AFI Fest opening night gala Nov. 14.
Jodie Turner-Smith and Daniel Kaluuya in Universal’s “Queen & Slim.” The film will screen its world premiere during the AFI Fest opening night gala Nov. 14.
(Campbell Addy / Universal Pictures)

Universal’s “Queen & Slim” will kick off AFI Fest’s opening night gala at the TCL Chinese Theatre.

The world premiere of Makeready and Universal Pictures’ “Queen & Slim” will kick off AFI Fest 2019 as the opening night gala, the institute announced today.

Written by Emmy winner Lena Waithe, “Queen & Slim” stars Daniel Kaluuya and newcomer Jodie Turner-Smith as a young black couple who embark on an unlikely romance after an altercation with a police officer forces them to go on the run.

The film, which grapples with themes of racism and police brutality in America, is two-time Grammy Award winner and AFI alumna Melina Matsoukas’ feature film directorial debut. She’s helmed over a dozen videos for Beyoncé, including the Grammy-winning “Formation,” as well as multiple episodes of HBO’s “Insecure” and Netflix’s “Master of None.”

“The tools I learned while receiving my Master of Fine Arts from AFI informs my artistry every day and to have this moment come full circle is deeply moving,” said Matsoukas in a statement to AFI. She called the festival “integral to my story as a filmmaker.”

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“My mission as an artist is to create change in the world,” she said. “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.”

“The film is an outstanding debut,” said AFI Festival director Michael Lumpkin in a statement. “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.”

Last year’s AFI Fest world premieres included the Focus Features duo of “On the Basis of Sex” and “Mary Queen of Scots” and Netflix’s “Bird Box.” Previous world premiere titles include “American Sniper,” “The Big Short,” “The Fighter,” “Monster” and “Selma.”

AFI Fest 2019 will run Nov. 14 through 21 at theaters throughout Los Angeles. The opening night gala for “Queen & Slim” will screen Nov. 14 at the TCL Chinese Theatre.

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“Queen & Slim” opens in theaters on Nov. 27.


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