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The buzz around Steve McQueen’s five-part BBC/Amazon anthology film series Small Axe is crescendoing ahead of the world premiere of three episodes at the New York Film Festival later this month, and The Hollywood Reporter now has an exclusive first-look photo from the film entitled Alex Wheatle.
The series explores five stories from within London’s West Indian community between the 1960s and 1980s, with this film telling the true story of Wheatle, an award-winning writer for young people, and his own remarkable and often humorous journey through the care system, and then to prison following the Brixton Uprising in 1981. In 2008, Wheatle — played by newcomer Sheyi Cole (left in the still, alongside Khali Best) — was awarded a Member of the British Empire (MBE) honor in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.
Cole and Best star alongside Elliot Edusah, Robbie Gee, Jonathan Jules, and Fumilayo Brown-Olateju.
The four other Small Axe films are Mangrove, Lovers Rock, Education and Red, White and Blue. Mangrove, starring Letitia Wright, and Lovers Rock, starring Michael Ward, were selected as part of the Cannes Film Festival lineup in June. Lovers Rock will now open the New York Film Festival, with Mangrove and Red, White and Blue — starring John Boyega — also having their first public screenings. Mangrove is also set to open the BFI London Film Festival in October. Small Axe will be landing on BBC One this fall in the U.K. and Amazon Prime Video in the U.S.
In June, McQueen dedicated the series to George Floyd and “all the other black people that have been murdered, seen or unseen, because of who they are.”
Small Axe has been executive produced by Tracey Scoffield and David Tanner for Turbine Studios and McQueen for Lammas Park. Mike Elliot produces for EMU Films with Turbine and Anita Overland. The executive producers for the BBC are Lucy Richer, senior commissioning editor for drama and Rose Garnett, director of BBC Films. Amazon Studios is co-producing within the U.S. BBC Studios is the international distributor and is handling global television sales.
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