Two feature length films from Small Axe, a BBC commissioned anthology of five stories, created and directed by Oscar and Bafta-winning director Steve McQueen, have been selected for the 2020 Cannes Film Festival.

The two films, Mangrove and Lovers Rock, along with the other three titles are part of the five-strong Small Axe productions that will receive their world premieres on BBC One and BBC iPlayer in the UK later this year.

Steve McQueen
Steve McQueen

Small Axe was created and directed by the award-winning Steve McQueen and is his first directorial effort since “Widows” The five films tell personal stories about London’s West Indian community from the late-1960’s to mid-1980’s. The title – Small Axe – is derived from an African proverb, which has resonance throughout the Caribbean, “if you are the big tree, we are the small axe”. This was made popular by Bob Marley in The Wailers’ song Small Axe from the 1973 album Burnin’.

Mangrove, starring Letitia Wright (Black Panther), tells the true story of the Mangrove 9 and the trial that took place at the Old Bailey in 1970.) Letitia’s co-stars include Shaun Parkes (Lost In Space) and Malachi Kirby (Curfew) star as well as Rochenda Sandall (Line Of Duty) and Jack Lowden (The Long Song).

Steve McQueen
Letitia Wright

“I dedicate these films to George Floyd and all the other Black people that have been murdered, seen or unseen, because of who they are, in the US, UK and elsewhere.”

Lovers Rock tells a fictional story of young love and music at a blues party in the early 1980s. Amarah-Jae St Aubyn makes her screen debut opposite the BAFTAs 2020 Rising Star award recipient Micheal Ward (Blue Story). Shaniqua Okwok (Boys), Kedar Williams-Stirling (Sex Education), Ellis George (Dr Who) and Alexander James-Blake (Top Boy) also star, among many others.

Steve McQueen, who also co-wrote the scripts, said: “I dedicate these films to George Floyd and all the other Black people that have been murdered, seen or unseen, because of who they are, in the US, UK and elsewhere. ‘If you are the big tree, we are the small axe.’ Black Lives Matter.”

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