Lovers Rock to open NYFF

Steve McQueen film challenges systemic racism

by Anne-Katrin Titze

Steve McQueen’s Lovers Rock will open 58th New York Film Festival
Steve McQueen’s Lovers Rock will open 58th New York Film Festival Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

Film at Lincoln Center announced today that Steve McQueen’s Lovers Rock (part of his Small Axe anthology), co-written by Courttia Newland, will be the Opening Night selection of the 58th New York Film Festival. Lovers Rock stars Amarah-Jae St. Aubyn, Micheal Ward, Shaniqua Okwok, Kedar Williams-Stirling, Ellis George, Alexander James-Blake, and Kadeem Ramsay with Francis Lovehall and Daniel Francis-Swaby. The film is a fictional account that takes place in London's West Indian community in the early 1980s.

Steve McQueen’s Lovers Rock
Steve McQueen’s Lovers Rock

“In the coming weeks we’ll unveil the films our programmers have selected for the 2020 New York Film Festival,” said Eugene Hernandez, Director of the New York Film Festival. “For months we’ve worked to both sustain and refresh NYFF — a champion of film as art since 1963 — and we’re honoured 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.”

“Steve McQueen is one of the essential artists of our time, and he reaches a new level of mastery with the Small Axe films,” said New York Film Festival Director of Programming Dennis Lim. “These are works of historical drama that speak powerfully and urgently to our present moment of reckoning over police brutality and systemic racism. They tell stories of outward struggle and inner conflict but also of everyday joy. We can't wait to share these revelatory films with audiences, and to open the festival with Lovers Rock, a celebration of Black lives as exhilarating as it is liberating.”

“That NYFF has given Steve McQueen this unprecedented platform speaks to the urgency and brilliance of what he has created, and all of us at the BBC feel hugely proud to be part of these films,” said Rose Garnett, Executive Producer for the BBC and Director of BBC Films. “Audiences everywhere will be electrified and deeply moved by this extraordinary work.”

“It’s an incredible honour and also very humbling to show three of my films at the New York Film Festival. 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,” said Steve McQueen.

Two other films from the Small Axe anthology, Mangrove and Red, White and Blue, will also have their World Premieres as part of this year’s Main Slate.

Lovers Rock will premiere on BBC One later this year and air on Amazon Prime Video in the US.

The 2020 New York Film Festival runs from September 25 through October 11, 2020.

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