In the aftermath of the 2020 Golden Globes stirring up controversy for not nominating any women in the Best Director and Best Screenplay categories, “Queen & Slim” director Melina Matsoukas is speaking out against the Hollywood Foreign Press Association HFPA. Matsoukas tells Variety the HFPA, whose members vote for the Golden Globes, refused to watch “Queen & Slim” and skipped multiple FYC screenings that were set for the movie.
“We held three screenings for the HFPA and almost no members attended,” Matsoukas said. “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.”
Matsoukas added, “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.”
An HFPA representative told Variety that “Queen & Slim” screeners were sent to voters and they had the option of watching the movie at home instead of attending an FYC screening. The HFPA said in a statement it “maintains that 'Queen & Slim' was in the conversation amongst the membership.”
Sources tell Variety otherwise, as one screening of “Queen & Slim” was reportedly attended by only four voting members. The movie earned positive reviews and has been a financial hit for Universal Pictures with nearly $30 million at the domestic box office. The studio reportedly sent out more than 60,000 “Queen & Slim” screeners to various guilds and journalists, including the HFPA. A source close to Universal told Variety that HFPA interest in “Queen & Slim” seemed so low that it canceled a Golden Globes press conference for the film scheduled for November 16.
Variety reports: “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.”
Matsoukas also revealed an uncomfortable moment she had at an HFPA fundraiser earlier this year in which an HFPA member approached her with a movie idea and used “a very archaic term in the pitch.” The director said, “I found it quite offensive and disrespectful to me as a woman of color.”
As for whether or not women directors will break into the Oscar race, Matsoukas said, “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.”
“Queen & Slim” is now playing in theaters nationwide. Head over to Variety’s website to read more from Matsoukas. IndieWire has reached out to the HFPA for further comment.
With most major releases indefinitely delayed, film festivals postponed, and studios dropping their theatrical releases on digital left and right due to the coronavirus COVID-19 crisis, awards season is going to look very different by the time it rolls around in the fall. And no, it won’t be Bloodshot and Sonic the Hedgehog gunning for best picture, as many online have joked.
The Hollywood Foreign Press Association is making significant changes to its long-standing rules for the Golden Globes awards eligibility that expands the formats where an eligible film can be first released, including subscription streaming services, subscription cable channels, and broadcast TV. With these changes to the Golden Globes eligibility rules, other awards bodies like the Academy Awards, will likely soon follow.
Deadline reports that the HFPA announced that it would be altering its rules for Golden Globe motion picture eligibility and screenings for this year, which would — for the first time in history — open up the films eligible for the top best picture prizes drama and musical/comedy to those that were first released on streaming services, cable, and broadcast TV. However, producers and studios must still prove they had a “bona fide theatrical release planned to begin in Los Angeles during the period from March 15 to April 30 2020.”
This is a change that would likely have come at some point anyway, with the rise of streaming platforms who have become awards heavy-hitters like Netflix, Amazon Video, and Hulu, but has been expedited by the coronavirus epidemic, which has forced the shuttering of theaters across the country and delayed film releases and productions.
“The HFPA’s reminders list committee will consider application of this suspension of the rules on a case-by-case basis when compiling the annual Golden Globe reminders list in the fall,” the HFPA says. “The HFPA will continue to assess the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic on motion picture and television distribution and exhibition and may extend these suspensions of the Golden Globe award rules and/or may make other temporary variations to those rules as it considers appropriate in the future.”
Exhibition requirements have been temporarily suspended, except for the rule that films must be released seven days prior to midnight on December 31 of the qualifying year. The HFPA has broadened eligible feature film release platforms — previously only pay-per-view services and theaters — to the alternate formats like streaming services, subscription cable channels, and broadcast TV. But this expansion opens up a whole host of questions: what does this mean for the Golden Globe categories dedicated to TV movies that are dominated by HBO? Could a film that premiered at a film festival but picked up by a cable channel now be...