Steve McQueen’s Mangrove had its European premiere on Wednesday 7 October, when it opened the BFI London Film Festival. Co-written by Steve McQueen and Alastair Siddons, starring Letitia Wright, Shaun Parkes and Malachi Kirby, the film tells the true story of the Mangrove 9, the group of Black activists who clashed with London police during a protest march in 1970, and their highly publicised trial that followed. That trial became the first judicial acknowledgment of institutional racism within the Metropolitan Police.
Mangrove is one of five films in the Small Axe series, a drama anthology comprising five original films created and directed by Steve McQueen for BBC One. Prior to the event, McQueen said, “I couldn’t be happier that Mangrove will open this year’s BFI London Film Festival. Although the themes are universal, Mangrove is a London story. It may have happened fifty years ago, but it’s as relevant today as it was then.”
The festival’s innovative 12day offering takes the festival to cities around the UK, with many films across the programme available for virtual premieres at home. For full details of the BFI London Film Festival go to bfi.org.uk/london-film-festival.
The five original films that make up the Small Axe collection by Academy Award, BAFTA and Golden Globe-winning filmmaker, Steve McQueen, will air weekly on BBC One and iPlayer in November and December.
SMALL AXE SCHEDULE
Sunday 15 November, 9pm
This historical film centres on Frank Crichlow (Shaun Parkes), the owner of Notting Hill’s Caribbean restaurant Mangrove, which was a lively community base for locals, intellectuals and activists. Police raided Mangrove time after time, and after arrests when Frank and the local community took to the streets in peaceful protest in 1970, a very publicised trial ensued.
Sunday 22 November, 9pm
A story of young love at a Blues party in 1980, this film is an ode to the romantic reggae genre ‘Lovers Rock’, and to the Black youth who found freedom and love in its sound at London house parties.
Sunday 29 November, 9pm
This is the coming of age story of 12 year old Kingsley (Kenyah Sandy), who has a fascination for astronauts and rockets. When Kingsley is pulled into the headmaster’s office for being disruptive in class, he discovers he’s being sent to a school for those with special needs. This was the unofficial segregation policy at play, preventing many Black children from having the education they deserved – until a group of Caribbean women took matters into their own hands.
Sunday 6 December, 9pm
A biopic of award-winning writer Alex Wheatle (Sheyi Cole), this film tells his story from a young boy and through his early adult years. Having spent his childhood in a mostly white institutional care home with no love or family, Wheatle finally found for the first time, in Brixton, not only a sense of community, but his identity and an ability to grow his passion.
Red, White and Blue
Sunday 13 December, 9pm
Leroy Logan was a young forensic scientist with a yearning to do more than his solitary laboratory work. When he saw his father assaulted by two policemen, he found himself driven to revisit his childhood ambition of becoming a police officer. This film tells Logan’s story.