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Steve McQueen’s Mangrove is set to open the 2020 BFI London Film Festival, marking the second time the director has raised the curtain on the festival in three years after Widows opened the 2018 edition.
The film will have its European premiere on Wednesday, Oct. 7, launching a new hybrid version of the London Film Festival taking place mostly online as it contends with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Mangrove will be one of 12 films playing for free at the BFI Southbank in London and several cities around the U.K., while more than 55 others will be given virtual premieres.
Starring Letitia Wright, Shaun Parkes and Malachi Kirby, Mangrove — co-written by McQueen and Alistair Siddons — tells the true story of the Mangrove 9, a group of Black activists who clashed with London police during a protest march in 1970 and their highly publicized trial that followed. The trial was the first judicial acknowledgment of behavior motivated by racial hatred within the Metropolitan Police.
The film is one of five films from Small Axe, a drama anthology which comprises five original films created by McQueen for BBC One and co-produced with Amazon.“I couldn’t be happier that Mangrove will open this year’s BFI London Film Festival,” said McQueen. “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.”
Added festival director: “This new series from Oscar-winning director and BFI Fellow Steve McQueen could not be more timely in the context of recent global protests around anti-Black racism and inequality, and McQueen has been a powerful voice in challenging the status quo and demanding inclusion within the British film industry. His Widows also opened the 62nd BFI London Film Festival in 2018 and we have never had the same filmmaker open the LFF twice in such a close time frame; that’s both a testament to the urgency of the film and potency of his filmmaking.”
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