Film at Lincoln Center announced today that Steve McQueen’s Lovers Rock will be the Opening Night film of the 58th New York Film Festival, making its World Premiere. Lovers Rock is part of the Small Axe anthology, which comprises five original films by Academy Award, BAFTA, and Golden Globe-winning filmmaker Steve McQueen (Hunger, 12 Years A Slave), which will premiere on BBC One later this year and air on Amazon Prime Video in the US. Set from the late 1960s to the mid-1980s, the films each tell a different story involving London’s West Indian community, whose lives have been shaped by their own force of will despite rampant racism and discrimination. It is produced by Turbine Studios and Steve McQueen’s Lammas Park for BBC One with Amazon Studios co-producing in the US. The five films that make up Small Axe are Mangrove, Lovers Rock, Alex Wheatle, Education and Red, White and Blue.
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 (Top Boy). Shaniqua Okwok (Boys), Kedar Williams-Stirling (Sex Education), Ellis George (Doctor Who), Alexander James-Blake (Top Boy), Kadeem Ramsay (Blue Story) also star, as well as Francis Lovehall and Daniel Francis-Swaby, who make their screen debuts. Lovers Rock was co-written by Courttia Newland and Steve McQueen.
Of historic note for the festival, two other films from the anthology, Mangrove and Red, White and Blue, will also have their World Premieres as part of this year’s Main Slate. The full Main Slate for the 58th New York Film Festival will be announced in the coming weeks.
Mangrove is the true story of the Mangrove 9, a group of Black activists who clashed with London police during a protest march in 1970, and the highly publicized trial that followed. The trial was the first judicial acknowledgment of behavior motivated by racial hatred within the Metropolitan Police. Letitia Wright (Black Panther), Shaun Parkes (Lost in Space), and Malachi Kirby (Curfew) star alongside Rochenda Sandall (Line of Duty), Jack Lowden (The Long Song), Sam Spruell (Snow White and the Huntsmen), Gershwyn Eustache Jnr (The Gentlemen), Nathaniel Martello-White (Collateral), Richie Campbell (Liar), Jumayn Hunter (Les Misérables), and Gary Beadle (Summer of Rockets). Mangrove was co-written by Alastair Siddons and Steve McQueen. Mangrove and Lovers Rock are part of the Cannes 2020 Official Selection.
Red, White and Blue spotlights the true story of Leroy Logan, who saw his father assaulted by two policemen, motivating him to join the Metropolitan Police and change their racist attitudes from within. John Boyega (Star Wars: The Force Awakens) and Steve Toussaint (Prince of Persia) star with talented newcomers Tyrone Huntley, Nathan Vidal and Jaden Oshenye. Red, White and Blue was co-written by Courttia Newland and Steve McQueen.
The 58th edition of the New York Film Festival will focus on outdoor and virtual screenings with indoor screenings as possible and directed by state and health officials. In an unprecedented collaboration, Film at Lincoln Center is proud to partner with arts and citywide cultural institutions from across the city this year to share films with New York City communities at two drive-ins: the Queens Drive-In at Flushing Meadows Corona Park, created by Rooftop Films, the New York Hall of Science, and Museum of the Moving Image; and the Brooklyn Drive-In at The Brooklyn Army Terminal, created by Rooftop Films and the New York City Economic Development Corporation. This exciting and historic partnership is intended to act as a cooperative effort to bring films safely back to New Yorkers and to highlight the power of cinema to build community and camaraderie among our fellow citizens as New York emerges from an incredibly challenging period. Specific dates, along with programming and ticketing details will follow in the coming weeks.
“It’s an incredible honor and also very humbling to show three of my films at the New York Film Festival. It’s especially meaningful for me at this particular time to share these stories as a Black man of West Indian heritage. I’m grateful to the NYFF for their generosity and wish everyone a safe and healthy festival,” said Steve McQueen.