Venice Film Festival 2020: how Regina King just made history at the event

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Hollie Richardson
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Regina King

“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.”

Oscar-winning actor Regina King is best known and loved for If Beale Street Could Talk and Watchmen. But she’s also directed a number of episodes of hit TV series, including Shameless and This Is Us. And most recently, she directed and executive-produced her first feature film: One Night In Miami. The movie just made its premiere at Venice Film Festival 2020 – and King has actually made history with it.

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One Night in Miami is the first movie directed by an African American woman to be selected in the festival’s history. Although it’s of course frustrating for this to have taken 88 years to happen, it is a step forward and hugely important moment for King.

As reported by The Guardian, King shared her mixed feelings over what this means for the future over a video link interview: “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.”

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She added: “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…

“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.”

The importance of this recognition was highlighted after a recent New York Times analysis found that out of 1,034 films in the Criterion Collection – regarded as including the “giants of 20th-century cinema” – only nine had Black directors.

Also, another recent report found that there are 22 male directors for every female director

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So, what exactly is One Night in Miami about?

The film is an adaptation of Kemp Powers’s play of a real-life meeting between Cassius Clay, Malcolm X, Jim Brown and Sam Cooke after Clay’s surprise win over Sonny Liston at the Miami Beach Convention Center in February 1964. He was a world heavyweight boxing champion. But due to segregation laws, the boxer can’t stay on the island, and instead spends the night celebrating with his friends at the Hampton House Motel in Miami’s Overtown neighborhood.

Let’s take a look the first clip shared by Amazon Prime Video:

Speaking to the Los Angeles Times about the timeliness of the film, King said in a recent interview: “It’s a love letter to the Black man’s experience in America.

“They’re unique. I mean, they’re deities. But here, they’re just talking about their fears and concerns and being vulnerable and honest.” 

Although Amazon has acquired the rights to the film, a UK release date is yet to be confirmed.

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Hollie Richardson

Hollie is a digital writer at Stylist.co.uk, mainly covering the daily news on women’s issues, politics, celebrities and entertainment. She also keeps an ear out for the best podcast episodes to share with readers. Oh, and don’t even get her started on Outlander…