‘Queen & Slim’ Scribe Lena Waithe On Making A Film “Where We Could Keep Breathing And The Oppressor Didn’t”

Jonathan Bachman

Emmy winner Lena Waithe and director Melina Matsoukas were on hand at the 25th annual Essence Festival to present the first 13-minutes of the forthcoming feature, Queen and Slim. 

The Universal Pictures and Makeready film stars Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner-Smith as a couple whose first date goes awry after the two are pulled over by a police officer at a traffic stop. They kill the police officer in self-defense and go on the run, rather than turn themselves in.  But the incident is captured on video and goes viral, and the couple unwittingly become a symbol of trauma, terror, grief, and pain for people across the country.

“I wanted to give voice to all the nameless faceless men and women of color whose lives were taken unjustly and who didn’t make it home. I actually refer to them as fallen soldiers but unfortunately, they were fighting a war they didn’t know they were in,” said Waithe during a Q&A session following the preview.

“There is so much black deaths surrounding us… I wanted to turn the tables where we could keep breathing and the opposer didn’t.”

This pic marked the directorial film debut for Matsoukas, who hopes that this story of black love can create change. “It sounds naive but I always say I make films to change the world. I can do that by giving a voice to the unheard and telling their stories.”

In order to tell the story properly and authentically, Waithe and Matsoukas fought for final cut to ensure what ended up on the big screen was “not put through a white gaze,” said Waite

“Every shot is a wore wound. It’s really the hardest thing I had to do,” said Matsoukas. “We fought the whole way through. We’re fighting now.”

The two agree that the fight is worth it.

“We need to become the gatekeepers,” remarked Waithe. “It’s up to us what we do with that success… it’s about how can I use this to crack open the door for so many more of us to come through.”

Queen and Slim hits theaters November 27.

 

 

 

This article was printed from https://deadline.com/2019/07/queen-slim-lena-waithe-melina-matsoukas-essence-festival-1202642827/