It’s film festival season soon, most of them happening virtually. Venice begins on September 2 followed by Telluride a couple of days later. Then it’s TIFF on September 10 and the New York Film Festival kicks off September 23. After that the London Film Festival is October 7 and it was announced today that for the second time in three years, a Steve McQueen film will open the festival. The last time was Widows in 2018.
Mangrove is part of McQueen’s Small Axe anthology, a collection of five original films by McQueen for BBC One and Amazon about the Black British experience from the 60s to the 80s. Per The Hollywood Reporter, Mangrove “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.”
As McQueen said in a statement released today along with the announcement that his film would open the 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."
The film stars Letitia Wright, Shaun Parkes, and Malachi Kirby. Here’s the trailer:
A few weeks ago we saw Daniel Kaluuya, playing Black Panther Party Chairman Fred Hampton, on the microphone tearing up the screen in the first trailer for Judas and the Black Messiah and declaring himself the frontrunner for the Best Actor Oscar. Now it’s Letitia’s turn on the megaphone calling out inequality and abuse. I love the way this trailer cuts between the clipped, judgy “Queen’s English” tone of that barrister sneering at the inconvenience of Black people fighting for their rights and Letitia’s passionate plea for justice. And I love too that we’ll be getting a Letitia double this fall as she’s front and centre in Mangrove and also has a role in Death on the Nile.
These are excellent choices post-Black Panther. Shuri is one of Marvel’s most promising characters as the MCU moves into its next phase. So, since she has the blockbuster part covered, Letitia’s filling out the other parts of her resumé with interestingly distinct work, from historical drama to comedy, to further showcase her range. And it doesn’t seem like she’s in a terrible rush to do it. This is smart, this is strategic, and she can take her time. Talent is worth waiting for.
Yours in gossip,