The first film from Steve McQueen’s highly anticipated Small Axe will premiere on BBC One and iPlayer on Sunday 15th November at 9pm. 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 the BBC’s heartland channel.
Set from the late 1960’s to the mid-1980’s, each of the films tell a story involving London’s West Indian community, whose lives have been shaped by their own force of will, despite rampant racism and discrimination. Even though this collection of films is set some decades ago, the stories are as vital and timely today as they were for the West Indian community in London at the time. Small Axe is a celebration of Black joy, beauty, love, friendship, family, music and even food; each one, in its own unique way, conveys hard-won successes, bringing hope and optimism for the future.
“The anthology, anchored in the West Indian experience in London, is a celebration of all that that community has succeeded in achieving against the odds,” explains Steve McQueen. “Although all five films take place between the late 60s and mid-80s, they are just as much a comment on the present moment as they were then. They are about the past, yet they are very much concerned with the present.”
Mangrove will receive it’s broadcast premiere on BBC One and iPlayer on Sunday 15th November. The film centres on Frank Crichlow the owner of Notting Hill’s Caribbean restaurant, Mangrove, a lively community base for locals, intellectuals and activists. In a reign of racist terror, the local police raid Mangrove time after time, making Frank and the local community take to the streets in peaceful protest in 1970. When nine men and women, including Frank and leader of the British Black Panther Movement Altheia Jones-LeCointe and activist Darcus Howe are wrongly arrested and charged with incitement to riot, a highly publicised trial ensues, leading to hard-fought win for those fighting against discrimination. An all star Black cast with some very familiar faces including Gershwyn Eustache and Letitia Wright. Mangrove was co-written by Alastair Siddons and Steve McQueen.
Lovers Rock Sunday 22nd November tells a fictional story of young love at a Blues party in 1980. The film is an ode to the romantic reggae genre “Lovers Rock” and to the Black youth who found freedom and love in its sound in London house parties, when they were unwelcome in white nightclubs. Lovers Rock was co-written by Courttia Newland and Steve McQueen.