Second instalment of Steve McQueen’s Small Axe anthology added to LFF line-up

Lovers Rock, another instalment in Sir Steve McQueen’s Small Axe anthology, has been added to the line-up of the BFI London Film Festival.

It joins Mangrove, starring Letitia Wright, which will open the festival next month.

The film, co-written by Courttia Newland and Sir Steve, is an ode to the romantic reggae genre called Lovers Rock and to the young people who found freedom and love in its sound.

It tells the fictional story of young love and music at a house party in 1980 and stars Blue Story and Top Boy actor Micheal Ward, as well as Amarah-Jae St Aubyn, Shaniqua Okwok, Kedar Williams-Stirling, Ellis George, Alexander James-Blake and Kadeem Ramsay.

The film will premiere on October 18 with two screenings at BFI Southbank.

Lovers Rock and Mangrove are two of five films from the Small Axe drama anthology created by Sir Steve for BBC One, which each tell a different story involving London’s West Indian community, set from the late 1960s to the mid-1980s.

Mangrove follows the march of 150 protesters of West Indian, African and South Asian heritage in Notting Hill, west London, to local police stations in protest against police harassment in their communities, including the Mangrove restaurant.

Nine protest leaders – Frank Crichlow, Darcus Howe, Altheia Jones-LeCointe, Barbara Beese, Rupert Boyce, Rhodan Gordon, Anthony Innis, Rothwell Kentish and Godfrey Millett – were arrested and charged with incitement to riot.

The group later became known as the Mangrove 9.

Mangrove will open the festival on October 7 and will play for free to audiences at BFI Southbank and in selected cinemas across the UK.

Sir Steve said: “I’m so happy to be screening Lovers Rock at the London Film Festival, to show it here where it belongs is a privilege. I hope this film will bring back memories of parties past and look to the future of parties to come.”

Festival director Tricia Tuttle added: “Steve McQueen’s Lovers Rock as a late addition? Swoon… this is exactly what we all need on the last day of the BFI London Film Festival: pure cinematic and musical balm.”

The event will run from October 7 to 18.