Steve McQueen’s Lovers Rock, part of a five-film television anthology, has been selected to open the 58th edition of the New York Film Festival.
As with all film festivals this year since March, NYFF will be a mostly virtual festival with some in person events, due to the coronavirus pandemic. The selection of a television series by NYFF follows Toronto’s choice of Mira Nair’s A Suitable Boy, a six-part BBC drama, as that festival’s closer.
Part of the Oscar-winning filmmakers Small Ax anthology series, Lovers Rock details a story of young love during a blues party in the early 1980s and stars Amarah-Jae St. Aubyn, in her screen debut, opposite BAFTA EE Rising Star winner Micheal Ward, Shaniqua Okwok, Kedar Williams-Stirling, Ellis George, Alexander James-Blake and Kadeem Ramsay.
Lovers Rock is joined by Mangrove and Red, White and Blue as apart of the anthology that will premiere on BBC One and then later on Amazon Prime. Mangrove and Lovers Rock were also chosen as selections for the 2020 Cannes Film Festival.
“It’s an incredible honor and also very humbling to show three of my films at the New York Film Festival,” said McQueen. “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.”
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. It stars Letitia Wright, Shaun Parkes, and Malachi Kirby, and was co-written by Alastair Siddons and McQueen.
Red, White and Blue tells the story of Leroy Logan, who saw his father assaulted by two policemen. He later joined the Metropolitan Police in order to change their racist attitudes from within. John Boyega and Steve Toussaint star in the film, which was co-written by Courttia Newland and McQueen.
“For months we’ve worked to both sustain and refresh NYFF — a champion of film as art since 1963 — and we’re honored that filmmaker Steve McQueen accepted our invitation to open the 58th New York Film Festival in an unprecedented manner, with one of three remarkable new films he’ll unveil at NYFF,” said Eugene Hernandez, Director of the New York Film Festival.
McQueen is in good company when it comes to NYFF openers: last year’s opening night film was Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman. Previous opening night features include Clint Eastwood’s Mystic River, Yorgos Lanthimos’s The Favourite, Alexander Payne’s About Schmidt, Ang Lee’s Life of Pi, and David Fincher’s The Social Network. All of those films were nominated for or won Oscars.