The film will get its European premiere on Wednesday 7 October as part of the festival’s 12-day hybrid physical and online program.
Marking 50 years since the events depicted in the film, Mangrove tells the true story of the Mangrove 9, the 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.
Pic is co-written by Steve McQueen and Alastair Siddons. It is one of the five films from McQueen’s Small Axe series, a drama anthology for BBC One, which will air this fall on the BBC and on Amazon Prime Video in the U.S.
Mangrove and eleven other new films from the LFF program will screen in previews across the UK. The festival’s full program will be announced at an online launch on Tuesday 8 September.
12 Years A Slave director McQueen 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 fifty years ago, but it’s as relevant today as it was then.”
BFI London Film Festival Director, Tricia Tuttle added: “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.”
Small Axe is executive-produced by Tracey Scoffield and David Tanner for Turbine Studios and Steve McQueen for Lammas Park. Mike Elliot is producing 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 US. BBC Studios are the international distributors and are handling global television sales.