After winning a Best Picture Oscar with “12 Years A Slave,” Steve McQueen is turning his attention from American racism to British racism with “Small Axe,” an Amazon anthology series starring John Boyega and Letitia Wright set to stream this November.
In the new trailer, which can be seen above, you can hear the Bob Marley song that inspires the series’ title. “If you are the big tree, we are the small axe, sharpened to cut you down,” Marley sings. “Small Axe” consists of five films inspired by true events, all focusing on West Indian residents in London who have persevered in the face of societal and institutional racism.
Boyega and Wright’s entries were featured at this year’s New York Film Festival, which was held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Wright stars in “Mangrove,” a retelling of the arrest of Black Panther leader Altheia Jones-LeCointe and eight other Black activists after they were falsely accused of inciting a riot during a peaceful protest in 1970.
Boyega stars in “Red White and Blue,” follows the career of Leroy Logan, who joined the Metropolitan Police after his father was assaulted by two police officers. Logan went on to serve for 30 years in the Met, becoming superintendent and co-founder of the Black Police Association.
Other stories in the series include “Alex Wheatle,” about the British novelist who was imprisoned after taking part in the 1981 Brixton riots and used his time in prison to develop as a writer, leading to a career that saw him receive the MBE from Queen Elizabeth II in 2008. “Lovers Rock” tells the story of a young couple that falls in love at a Blues party in 1980, while “Education” explores the segregation policies faced by Black children in Britain which, unlike Jim Crow in the U.S., were not officially law.
“Small Axe” will premiere on Nov. 20 with the release of “Mangrove,” with subsequent entries premiering on Amazon weekly. Watch the trailer in the clip above.