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Steve McQueen’s ‘Mangrove’ will open the BFI London Film Festival

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Steve McQueen’s new film Mangrove is set to open the BFI London Film Festival (LFF) later this year.

The film, which stars Black Panther‘s Letitia Wright, will tell the story of the Mangrove Nine – a group of Black activists who clashed with London police in 1970 during a protest march, which led to a highly publicised trial.

Mangrove forms part of McQueen’s Small Axe anthology series, and will premiere at New York Film Festival before having its European premiere at LFF, later airing on BBC One and Amazon Prime Video this autumn.

The series of films will tell individual stories on London’s West Indian community between the 1960s and 1980s, with the other four being Lovers Rock, Education, Alex Wheatle and Red, White and Blue.

Speaking of opening the LFF, the director said: “I couldn’t be happier that Mangrove will open this year’s BFI London Film Festival. Although the themes are universal, Mangrove is a London story. It may have happened 50 years ago, but it’s as relevant today as it was then.”

“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,” festival director, Tricia Tuttle, added.

Steve McQueen
Steve McQueen (Picture: Getty)

“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.”

This year’s LFF will be adopting a combination of virtual and physical screenings in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, with 50 virtual premieres and 12 previews of upcoming films held in theatres. The virtual premieres will also play at a set time and feature additional elements including talent Q&As.

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