Melina Matsoukas On ‘Queen & Slim’ & Black Storytelling
The best films sit with us long after the credits roll. We find ourselves reflecting on the narrative days later–replaying certain scenes or bits of dialogue over and over in our heads. That’s what visionary director Melina Matsoukas aims to do with her debut feature film, Queen & Slim. Known for her masterful work on Beyonce’s “Formation”–Matsoukas has teamed up with trailblazing writer, Lena Waithe to bring Queen & Slim to life.
Coined the Black Bonnie and Clyde– Matsoukas’ Queen & Slim opens with an awkward Tinder date between Queen (newcomer Jodie Turner-Smith) and Slim (Get Out’s Daniel Kaluuya). A fierce defense lawyer, Queen is having a bad day and her time with Slim–an easy-going blue-collar guy isn’t exactly making her day any better. As the date comes to an end, and the pair head home–they are pulled over by the police for a minor traffic violation. When Slim accidentally kills the officer in self-defense, he and Queen embark on a road trip –moving from the brutal cold streets of Ohio to the blistering hot New Orleans and Florida in a race for their lives.
Ahead of the film’s November 27 debut, STYLECASTER was invited to screen the first 12-minutes of the film and to participate in a talkback with Matsoukas. She discussed why Queen & Slim had to be her first feature, why this story is so important, and her visionary storytelling.
“[Lena] and I worked together for the first time a couple of years back on an episode of Master of Nonecalled ‘Thanksgiving'” she revealed. “It was the beginning of our collaboration. I call her my work soul sister. At the time, she was writing this film. She said, ‘You’re the only one that can direct it.’ Not wanting our relationship to get in the middle of that decision, I was like, ‘Send me the script.’ I’m always about passion; I have to love the words. I couldn’t put the script down when I read it. I knew this had to be my way into the narrative space and to do it with my sister is like the biggest honor I could have ever dreamed of.”
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