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Melina Matsoukas’ ‘Queen & Slim’ to Open AFI Fest

Film stars Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner-Smith

Melina Matsoukas’ “Queen & Slim” will open the American Film Institute’s (AFI) AFI Fest in November, the institute announced on Tuesday.

Written by Lena Waithe from a story by Waithe and James Frey, the film stars Daniel Kaluuya, Jodie Turner-Smith, Bokeem Woodbine, Chloe Sevigny, Flea, Sturgill Simpson and Indiya Moore.

Earlier this year, Matsoukas was awarded AFI’s Franklin J. Schaffner Alumni Medal. The Opening Night Gala screening will take place on Nov. 14 at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, California.

“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. “We are honored to shine a proper light upon her and ‘Queen & Slim.'”

Matsoukas added: “I feel privileged to present my first feature film, ‘Queen & Slim,’ at the opening night of AFI Fest, a place that is integral to my story as a filmmaker. 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. My mission as an artist is to create change in the world. 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 follows a black man (Kaluuya) and a black woman (Turner-Smith) as they are pulled over for a minor traffic infraction. The situation escalates and Kaluuya’s character kills the police officer in self-defense. They are forced to go on the run, but soon, the incident, captured on video, goes viral. “Queen & Slim” will be released on Nov. 27.

AFI Fest will take place from Nov. 14 to Nov. 21 in Los Angeles.

The full lineup and schedule will be revealed in October.