The 2019 Golden Globe nominations were announced recently, representing the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s picks for the best in film and television of the year. But many worthy works were snubbed and shut-out — chief among them Queen & Slim, the acclaimed hit drama from director Melina Matsoukas, writer Lena Waithe, and stars Jodie Turner-Smith and Daniel Kaluuya. The film didn’t receive a single Golden Globe nomination. In an interview with Variety, Matsoukas explained why she thought this oversight happened. And she did not mince words.
“It’s extremely discouraging,” Matsouka said. “It’s extremely infuriating. And it just represents an archaic system that is full of people who don’t value us.” Universal Pictures, the studio behind Queen & Slim, set up several press screenings for the HFPA to attend. But the results were dispiriting for the filmmaker.
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.
While home DVD screeners were sent to the voting members of the HFPA to view at their leisure, Universal Pictures apparently did not have confidence that the members watched the film even at home, and they cancelled a previously scheduled press conference with the cast. The treatment of Queen & Slim from the HFPA comes, according to Matsoukas, as an unfortunate extension of how they treated the filmmaker earlier during the film’s life cycle — when she attended an HFPA fundraiser before finishing Queen & Slim‘s final cut, she was treated inappropriately: “I was warned by three different people that I may be harassed or spoken to in an inappropriate way, which I was. 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.”
All of this is playing out against the fact that the HFPA nominated no female directors for their awards, despite the incredible films directed by women released this year. How can we affect change? According to Matsoukas, it comes from changing the voting body.
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.
When asked for comment by Variety, the HFPA responded tersely: “The HFPA maintains that ‘Queen & Slim’ was in the conversation amongst the membership.”