Regina King Is The First Black Female Director To Have A Film Selected At The Venice Film Festival

Photo credit: Frazer Harrison - Getty Images
Photo credit: Frazer Harrison - Getty Images


  • Regina King makes history as the first Black woman director to have a film selected for the Venice Film Festival in the annual event's 88-year history.

  • King makes her directorial debut with One Night in Miami, which premiered at the festival on Monday.

  • It offers a fictional account of the time four icons—Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, Sam Cooke, and football player Jim Brown—gathered one evening in 1964.

Regina King just made her directorial debut and is already making history from behind the lens. The Watchmen star premiered One Night in Miami at the Venice Film Festival yesterday, becoming the first Black female director to have a film selected for the annual event. The milestone is noteworthy but also sobering, considering the elite cinematic event has gone on for 87 years prior without selecting a feature helmed by a Black woman.

"I am so grateful for our film to be a part of the festival but I really, really want it to perform well," King said in a virtual press conference Monday, per Variety. "There's so much talent out there—so many talented directors—so if 'One Night in Miami' gets it done here, you'll get to see a lot more of us."

One Night in Miami is adapted from the eponymous play by Kemp Powers that reimagines the meeting of four Black titans in 1964: Muhammad Ali, then known as Cassius Clay; Malcolm X; soul singer Sam Cooke; and NFL star Jim Brown.

King understands the pressure and double standards riding on her achievement. She noted that the response to the film could "open doors or close doors for more Black female directors."

She added, "Unfortunately, across the world, that's how things seem to work. One woman gets a shot and if she does not succeed, it shuts thing down for years until someone else gets a shot."

Her long overdue triumph is reflective in the lack of representation for female directors of color. According to the latest study from the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, less than 1 percent of top films between 2007 and 2019 were directed by women of color, while more than 82 percent were directed by white men.

Along with One Night in Miami, some of 2020's releases may give us hope to change that ratio, with features including Gina Prince-Bythewood's The Old Guard, Cathy Yan's Birds of Prey, Channing Godfrey Peoples's Miss Juneteenth, Alice Wu's The Half of It, plus upcoming films from Chloé Zhao (Nomadland) and Nia DaCosta (Candyman).

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