On the back of Daniel Kaluuya’s fearsome performance in a first-look trailer for Judas and the Black Messiah, today BBC and Amazon have announced a series of films in the Steve McQueen-driven Small Axe series. Words can’t describe my joy at all the powerful, black-led releases that have dropped today — the films that remind us why we make films at all.
McQueen (Widows, Shame, 12 Years a Slave) is known for his expert direction of compelling narratives, and teaming up with Black Panther favourite Letitia Wright seems to be a recipe for success. Together they tell the powerful true story of the Mangrove 9, a group of Black activists who clashed with London police during a protest march in 1970.
Letitia Wright announced her involvement in the Small Axe series on Twitter this afternoon while singing the praises of her counterparts Kaluuya and Stanfield, who also had reason to celebrate today after the release of their latest trailer.
Enough is Enough.
Small Axe ✊???? pic.twitter.com/Jan9eV87IE
— Letitia Wright (@letitiawright) August 7, 2020
Mangrove is the first in a series of films driven by McQueen. They’ll be available via the BBC and via Amazon Prime, as announced by both services today. Set in 1970, Mangrove deals with complicated issues of institutional racism and many Internet users have expressed relief and solidarity, showing that the UK is not innocent in the discourse around racism that’s become so prevalent in recent months.
The project was first announced in June of 2019, with a lineup including John Boyega. While we’ve not heard much from the Star Wars icon, who’s also been a vocal activist during this year’s protests, it’s clear viewers are in for a striking series of narratives
Since his earlier releases, I have been a massive fan of Steve McQueen and his representation of black narratives. I spoke highly of him in my review of Widows, which dazzled on release back in 2018. I really cannot emphasise his talent enough — he’s a powerful storyteller and his latest project is bound to create a storm with the British broadcaster and internationally. Don’t expect easy viewing — McQueen is after all the king of disturbing material — but do expect to be moved.
Though Amazon hasn’t yet given a date for the new release, it’s possible we can expect it this side of Christmas, drawing us towards the end of 2020 and ensuring we don’t forget the gravity of events that have taken place this year.