Two years ago, Deniz Gamze Ergüven was the toast of Cannes, winning the festival’s Camera D’Or prize for first feature with her Directors’ Fortnight entry Mustang, which went on to become France’s foreign-language Oscar entry. Moving quickly on, Ergüven snapped up Bond star Daniel Craig to star opposite Halle Berry in her follow-up, Kings, which is set—surprisingly—in early-’90s Los Angeles and had its world premiere midway through the Toronto Film Festival.
“Kings was the script I started developing immediately after film school,” said Ergüven when she dropped into Deadline’s studio. “I spent years researching, writing, and trying to make that film enter production without managing to do it.” She added that Mustang had started off as “an evil master plan” that would enable her to do Kings afterwards. “And it worked,” she laughed. Though the film is embroiled in the riots that followed the beating of Rodney King in 1992, Ergüven said that the film was more personal than historical.
“I’m not from Los Angeles,” she said. “I haven’t lived those events, but two events triggered my desire for this film. The first one was that I was refused French nationality for the second time, and for me it was a personal shock. The country that I always knew, that I’d loved, where I had roots, was rejecting me and it was frightening. And then there were three weeks of riots a few months later in France, and all of a sudden, there was a societal problem coming up, and I could recognize my feelings inside those riots.” Showing the riots through the eyes of a whole family, Ergüven presents the perspectives of the adults and the children alike, who see things quite differently. “And so the film is like a very colorful bunch of flowers,” she said. “There’s tragedy, and there’s humor as well.”
You can find out more by watching the video above.
Deadline Studio at TIFF 2017 is presented by Calii Love, Watford Group, Philosophy Canada, and Equinox. Special thanks to Dan Gunam at Calii Love for location and production assistance; and Ontario Camera for equipment assistance. Video producer: Meaghan Gable; lighting and camera: Neil Hansen; design: Dialla Kawar; sound recording: Ida Jokinen.