Though the Cannes Film Festival will not have a live event this year, the organization announced the films that have been selected for the 2020 edition and will carry the official Cannes 2020 label. Two of the films announced, Mangrove and Lovers Rock, are from filmmaker Steve McQueen as a part of his BBC film series, Small Axe.
The project was first envisioned as a 5-hour episode anthology series but has now changed course. The cast of the film series reads like a who's who of British talent, including Letitia Wright, John Boyega, Malachi Kirby and Michael Ward. Amazon has the rights to the films outside of the UK.
With Cannes 2020 announced as protests are being held around the world to combat police violence, McQueen said in a statement that the films are dedicated to George Floyd and other recent victims of police brutality.
“I dedicate these films to George Floyd and all the other Black people that have been murdered, seen or unseen, because of who they are, in the U.S., U.K. and elsewhere. ‘If you are the big tree, we are the small axe.’ Black Lives Matter.” The selection also comes on the same day that Boyega played a major role in protests at London's Hyde Park, speaking passionately to the crowds.
Mangrove “tells the true story of the Mangrove 9 activists and the trial that took place at the Old Bailey in 1970." Wright, Kirby, Shaun Parkes, Rochenda Sandall and Jack Lowden star. Lovers Rock “tells a fictional story of young love and music at a blues party in the early 1980s." The film introduces Amarah-Jae St Aubyn, who stars with Ward. No other details are known right now about the other three films, Alex Wheatle, Education and Red, White and Blue, one of which stars Boyega.
As the 12 Years a Slave and Widows director's biggest TV project, it is set London’s West Indian community, starting in the late 1960s and running until the early 1980s.
“I felt these stories needed to be shared. I wanted to relive, reevaluate and investigate the journeys that my parents and the first generation of West Indians went on to deliver me here today calling myself a Black British person. What’s important about our stories is that they are local but at the same time global," said McQueen in a prior statement.
McQueen's last brush with TV was a few years back when he set a six-part series for HBO, Codes of Conduct, that would have followed a young Black man in New York City as he enters high society. A starry ensemble was set, including relative newcomer Devon Terrell, Helena Bonham Carter, Rebecca Hall and a pre-BlacKkKlansman and Hollywood Laura Harrier. The project would go on to be shelved.
Photo: BBC One