As the Golden Globes and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association continue to receive backlash after their almost all-white list of nominees, Queen & Slim director Melina Matsoukas is speaking out.
Matsoukas says that HFPA members refused to screen the film. The organization has about 90 members. The director told Variety, “We held three screenings for the HFPA and almost no members attended. For me, it’s reflective of their voting body. It’s not reflective of the society in which we live in or the industry as it stands today. They don’t value the stories that represent all of us, and those stories are so often disregarded and discredited, as are their filmmakers. It’s extremely discouraging. It’s extremely infuriating. And it just represents an archaic system that is full of people who don’t value us.”
In response to Matsoukas’ claim, an HFPA representative told Variety that screeners were also sent to members. “The HFPA maintains that Queen & Slim was in the conversation amongst the membership,” they said.
Variety also has sources that spoke about the film, who seemed to co-sign Matsoukas’ sentiments. The report reads, “Sources tell Variety that Universal Pictures tried to cajole the members of the Hollywood Foreign Press into seeing Queen & Slim. But after three different screenings, only a few HFPA voters had attended — one source puts the number at four — despite Queen & Slim’s strong reviews. Another source with knowledge of the studio’s awards campaign notes that more than 60,000 individual DVDs were made and sent to various guilds and journalists, including the HFPA. It’s possible that some Globes voters watched the movie at home, although studios can usually find out how the HFPA is responding to their movies by polling members. As a result of what Universal believed to be a lack of interest in Queen & Slim, the studio canceled a scheduled Globes press conference for Nov. 16. According to those familiar with the studio’s process, the feeling was that there was no reason to ask the cast to talk about the movie since they didn’t think voters had seen it.”
On what she’d say to HFPA members, Matsoukas said she’d tell them: “Your time is over. I believe they’ve created an unsafe work environment.” She also talked about an experience she had at an HFPA fundraiser. “I was warned by three different people that I may be harassed or spoken to in an inappropriate way, which I was,” she said.
She said an HFPA member approached her with a movie idea. “And they used a very archaic term in the pitch, and I found it quite offensive and disrespectful to me as a woman of color,” she explained.
“I think there’s an extremely long way to go. I’m always going to be hopeful because that’s who I am, but I don’t have a lot of faith in any institutions in this country because they have always discredited and disregarded work by women and people of color. The fact that five women have ever been nominated for directing in the lifetime of the Academy is infuriating. It’s obviously very imbalanced. Until the body of the people voting on the projects reflects our society and the people making these projects, there will be no change,” added Matsoukas.
Queen & Slim is in theaters now.
Photo: Getty Images