Universal Drama 'Queen & Slim' to Open AFI Fest

Lena Waithe Daniel Kaluuya Melina Matsoukas Split - Getty - H 2018
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The movie hails from writer Lena Waithe and director Melina Matsoukas and stars Daniel Kaluuya and newcomer Jodie Turner-Smith.

Universal's Queen & Slim is set to open AFI Fest 2019, it was announced Tuesday.

The drama hails from Emmy-winning writer Lena Waithe and director Melina Matsoukas, who helmed Beyoncé's "Formation" and the Nike "Equality" campaign, and stars Daniel Kaluuya and newcomer Jodie Turner-Smith, along with Chloe Sevigny.

"Melina’s powerful voice is the embodiment of the AFI ideal, for we believe in the revolutionary power of visual storytelling to share perspectives, inspire empathy and drive culture forward. We are honored to shine a proper light upon her and Queen & Slim,” AFI president and CEO Bob Gazzale said in a statement.

The opening-night gala screening is set to take place Nov. 14 at the historic TCL Chinese Theatre, followed by an afterparty at the Roosevelt Hotel.

Kaluuya and Turner-Smith star as a couple who are on a first first date together in Ohio when they are pulled over for a minor traffic infraction. The situation escalates with sudden and tragic results when Kaluuya's character kills the police officer in self-defense. Terrified and in fear for their lives, the man, a retail employee, and the woman, a criminal defense lawyer, are forced to go on the run. But the incident is captured on video and goes viral, and the couple are labeled "cop killers" and unwittingly become a symbol of trauma, terror, grief and pain for people across the country.

Waithe wrote the script based on an original idea by best-selling author James Frey. Waithe also produces via her company Hillman Grad Productions, along with Matsoukas via her production company De La Revolución Films. Frey produces via his production company 3BlackDot, alongside Andrew Coles and Michelle Knudsen. Makeready’s Brad Weston and Pam Abdy also are producers.

Queen & Slim was financed by Makeready and will be distributed by Universal Pictures worldwide, with eOne handling distribution in select territories including the U.K. and Canada. The pic is slated to hit theaters Nov. 27.

This year's AFI Fest is set to run Nov. 14-21 in Los Angeles. The full festival lineup and schedule will be unveiled in October.