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Regina King’s Directorial Debut Makes History At The Venice Film Festival

Regina King’s Directorial Debut Makes History At The Venice Film Festival

Black women continue to break barriers!

Regina King’s new film is making history as the first film directed by a Black woman to be selected at the Venice Film Festival, The Guardian reports. 

The One Night in Miami film is an adaptation of Kemp Powers’ drama about a meeting between Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, Jim Brown, and Sam Cooke after Ali’s victory over Sonny Liston in February 1964. The film is based on a true story and is King’s first time behind the camera as a director. 

While the annual film festival has spotlighted a host of Black male filmmakers including Spike Lee, John Singleton, Antoine Fuqua, and Steve McQueen, Black women filmmakers have been few and far in between. Last year, there was collective outrage about the lack of inclusion of women and this year seems to have been a turn for the festival. While the event was much smaller due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the impact was still felt. 

Speaking via video about the possibility and implications of her new film, Regina recognized how her success or failure will set the tone for other Black women directors.

“It’s interesting because how this film performs will open doors or maybe close doors for more Black female directors...that’s how things seem to work. A woman will get a shot, and if she does not succeed, that shuts things down for years to come until an opportunity comes again for another woman to get that shot," King said. "So I am so grateful for our film to be a part of the festival, but I really, really want it to perform well, because there’s so much talent out there and there are so many talented directors.” 

 

 

It has been a long road for Black directors in Hollywood. A recent study by the New York Times found that of 1,034 films regarded as 20th century cinema hits, only 9 had Black directors, with West Indies director Euzhan Palcy being the only Black woman director included. In 1983, Palcy was the first Black woman to win at the Venice film festival for Sugar Cane Alley, noting how the success of her film unfortunately didn’t translate to a successful career in Hollywood. Years later the first U.S. film directed by a Black woman would be released with Julie Dash’s Daughters of the Dust in 1991. King’s One Night in Miami selection is the first for a Black woman directed movie in the festival’s 88-year-history.  

LSE Fellow in film studies and author of the book Black Boys: The Aesthetics of British Urban Cinema, Dr. Clive Nwonka, spoke about King’s selection.

“This moment should influence the entire white film industry...They are the ones who should be looking at this moment and begin to unthink their assumptions and valuing of Black women film-makers," Nwonka said. "For Regina King’s film to be playing at a festival such as Venice represents a significant moment that will undoubtedly inspire other film-makers who have continued to struggle to find a major platform and recognition for their work.”

Congratulations Regina! We can’t wait to see the film!

Photo Courtesy of David Buchan/REX/Shutterstock