London Film Festival – Mangrove – ★★★★★

Part 1 of Steve McQueen’s “Small Axe” series…

No subject is at the forefront of people’s minds in the current climate as the one surrounding race relations, and Mangrove a Part 1 of Steve McQueen’s Small Axe series, a miniseries of five films to be aired on BBC One and Amazon Prime from the end of November 2020.

Mangrove begins with the story of Frank Crichlow (Shaun Parkes) who takes over ownership of the Mangrove restaurant in Notting Hill in 1969. The Caribbean restaurant was used as a sanctuary for West Indian men and women who had a place to go for a sense of community. It was frequented by locals and activists alike. It became the focus of police attacks and riots on the property who were determined to shut it down. This led to peaceful protests made through the streets by the community which ultimately turned to violence at the hands of a heavyhanded police force.

The second half of the film takes place mainly inside the courtroom as the Mangrove Nine wrongly arrested for violence and inciting rioting go toe-to-toe with police and the justice system in a plight to clear their names.

A very strong cast really carry this film. Black Panther’s Letitia Wright as activist Altheia Jones-Lecointe puts in a fantastic performance and Shaun Parkes as Frank is humble yet determined to stand up against prejudice.

These films are an important and insightful look into the culture, the stories and the reality of life in London for West Indians as early as the last 50 years, with tones and themes which are as relevant today as they were back then.

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