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‘Mangrove’: Police Violence, Racism & Protest — 50 Years Ago

The BBC unveiled the first trailer for Steve McQueen’s “Mangrove” — on the eve of the 50th anniversary of London’s Mangrove protest, when black people demonstrated against police harassment.

On August 9, 1970, 150 protesters of West Indian, African, and South Asian heritage in Notting Hill marched to local police stations in protest of police harassment in their communities. This lead to the arrest of nine innocent black women and men — since dubbed the Mangrove 9 — and were charged with incitement to riot.

The film follows the highly publicized trial that occurred afterwards. It was the first judicial acknowledgment of actions that were motivated by racism within the Metropolitan Police in London.

“To commemorate the bravery of these community activists and the nine who went on to be acquitted of incitement to riot with the judge citing ‘evidence of racial hatred,’ I am sharing the trailer of Mangrove, one of five films to be released under the banner Small Axe,” director McQueen said in a statement accompanying the trailer debut.

The Oscar-winning director (12 Years a Slave) said he will dedicate his new anthology of films to George Floyd and “all the other black people that have been murdered, seen or unseen, because of who they are.”

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It’s chilling that McQueen’s film was clearly made before Floyd’s death yet is now being released amidst the racial dialogue and protests it has spurred, globally. The subject of McQueen’s film eerily parallels the same issues that are still pressing now, fifty years later.

“Mangrove” will also be part of an upcoming anthology project “Small Axe,” which consists of different films from McQueen. “Small Axe” is the British director’s first television project and “Mangrove” is his first new material to debut after the release of “Widows” in 2018.

Starring Letitia Wright (Black Panther), “Mangrove” is an official selection of the Cannes Film Festival and the New York Film Festival. Also starring in the new film is Shaun Parkes, Malachi Kirby, Rochenda Sandall, Jack Lowden, Sam Spruell, Gershwyn Eustache Jr., and Gary Beadle, among others. “Mangrove” was co-written by McQueen and Alastair Siddons.

Amazon Prime will also stream the film, though they have not yet announced a release date for “Mangrove” or the “Small Axe” anthology project. The first three episodes of the anthology including “Mangrove” will open the 58th New York Film Festival on September 25, 2020.

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