Regina King recently opened up about being the first Black female director to have a film selected for the Venice Film Festival in its 88-year history.
King’s directorial debut “One Night in Miami” is the film that was chosen, and it’s based on a 2013 play written by Kemp Powers about the night Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, Sam Cooke, and Jim Brown met in 1964.
The former “227” actress spoke about making history during a Zoom news conference on Monday, Sept. 7, the same day of the “One Night in Miami” premiere. She said the film’s success will determine how many other female directors get a shot, so she wants it to do well.
“Unfortunately, across the world, that’s how things seem to work. One woman gets a shot, and if she does not succeed, it shuts things down for years until someone else gets a shot,” King explained, according to Variety. “I am so grateful for our film to be a part of the festival, but I really, really want it to perform well. 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.”
King’s film centers on a fictionalized account of Ali, Cooke, Brown and Malcolm X having a conversation after Ali, then still called Cassius Clay, beat Sonny Liston in Miami Beach to win the heavyweight title on Feb. 25, 1964.
Ali is unable to celebrate his win at Miami’s hot spots due to segregation so he hangs out with Cooke, Brown, and Malcolm at the Hampton House Motel in Miami’s Overtown neighborhood, a meeting which actually happened, although little is known about what transpired during their sit-down.
The film “One Night in Miami” was picked up by Amazon in July, and King said COVID-19 and George Floyd’s death affected its premiere.
“We thought we’d push it back because we didn’t know what the climate of going to theaters would be like,” she explained. “And then a couple of months after the pandemic hit, [George Floyd died], and for all the producers and everyone involved, we were like, ‘This needs to come out now.’ I feel like fate always had it planned out this way, but maybe we’re lucky and we’re going to have the opportunity to be a piece of art out there that moves the needle in a conversation about transformative change.”
King also talked about how “One Night in Miami” centering on four Black men relates to what’s happening now.
“Before they are Malcolm X and Cassius Clay, they are men before any of the other things, and the labels that are put on them,” said King. “No matter how much money they have or don’t have, one thing is the same: no matter where you go, you’ll be judged by the color of your skin and that’s never going to change.”
The Venice Film Festival, which takes place in Venice Lido, Italy, runs from Sept. 2-12.