Small Axe (anthology)

Small Axe is a British anthology film series, created and directed by Steve McQueen. The anthology consists of five films that tell distinct stories about the lives of West Indian immigrants in London from the 1960s to the 1980s.[1] Two episodes of the series were selected in the official competition of the 2020 Cannes Film Festival. The series premiered on 15 November 2020 on BBC One in the United Kingdom and on 20 November 2020 on Amazon Prime Video in the United States.[2][3][4] The title references a proverb – "Small axe fall big tree" or "If you are the big tree, we are the small axe" – that was popularised by Bob Marley in his 1973 song "Small Axe".[5]

Small Axe
Poster for Small Axe miniseries.jpg
GenreDrama
Created bySteve McQueen
Written by
Directed bySteve McQueen
ComposerMica Levi
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original languageEnglish
No. of episodes5 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producers
  • Steve McQueen
  • Tracey Scoffield
  • David Tanner
  • Lucy Richer
  • Rose Garnett
Producers
  • Anita Overland
  • Mike Elliot
CinematographyShabier Kirchner
Editors
Running time405 minutes
Production companies
Release
Original networkBBC One
Original release15 November (2020-11-15) –
13 December 2020 (2020-12-13)

FilmsEdit

Episode Title Director Screenwriters UK release date[6] US release date[7]
1 Mangrove Steve McQueen McQueen and Alastair Siddons 15 November 2020 20 November 2020
2 Lovers Rock McQueen and Courttia Newland 22 November 2020 27 November 2020
3 Red, White, and Blue 29 November 2020 4 December 2020
4 Alex Wheatle McQueen and Alastair Siddons 6 December 2020 11 December 2020
5 Education 13 December 2020 18 December 2020

ProductionEdit

DevelopmentEdit

It has been reported that Steve McQueen began working on the idea for Small Axe in 2010, and that some form of the series was in development since 2012.[8][9] While the series was initially conceived as a conventional television series with a serialized story, McQueen realized during development that he had sufficient material to make several distinct films.[9] In January 2014, it was announced that he would write and direct an untitled series for either BBC One or BBC Two about the experience of Black people in Britain.[10] In August 2015, it was announced that the series would air on BBC One.[11] In June 2019, Amazon Prime Video was announced to be distributing the series in the United States, with Amazon Studios co-producing.[12] The screenwriters include the British-Caribbean novelist Courttia Newland, author of The Gospel According to Cane (2013), and Alastair Siddons.[9]

CastingEdit

In June 2019, it was announced that Letitia Wright, John Boyega, Malachi Kirby, Shaun Parkes, Rochenda Sandall, Alex Jennings, and Jack Lowden had joined the cast of the series.[13] In January 2020, Micheal Ward joined the cast of the series.[14]

ReleaseEdit

Lovers Rock had its world premiere as the opener of the 58th New York Film Festival on 17 September 2020.[15][16][17] Mangrove had its world premiere at the festival on 25 September,[18][19] and Red, White, and Blue on 3 October.[20] Mangrove also opened the 64th BFI London Film Festival on 7 October 2020;[21] Lovers Rock screened at the same festival on 18 October.[22][23]

The series premiered in the UK on BBC One on 15 November 2020 and in the United States on Amazon Prime Video on 20 November 2020, with one episode released per week on both platforms.[4][24]

ReceptionEdit

Critical responseEdit

Critical press reviews of each individual film were positive. All five films received approval ratings of at least 95% on the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, while Metacritic assigned four of the five a score indicating "universal acclaim".

Lovers Rock, in particular, was named the best film of 2020 by the British film magazine Sight & Sound in its poll of 104 critics worldwide; Mangrove came in at 13th.[25]

Film Rotten Tomatoes rating Metacritic rating
Mangrove 99% approval (8.79/10 average)[26] 90 (26 critics)[27]
Lovers Rock 98% approval (8.82/10 average)[28] 95 (27 critics)[29]
Red, White and Blue 97% approval (8.31/10 average)[30] 84 (18 critics)[31]
Alex Wheatle 97% approval (7.35/10 average)[32] 77 (17 critics)[33]
Education 95% approval (7.94/10 average)[34] 87 (15 critics)[35]

AccoladesEdit

Award Category Nominee(s) Result Ref.
Boston Society of Film Critics Awards Best Cinematography Shabier Kirchner (for "Lovers Rock") Runner-up [36]
Broadcasting Press Guild Best Drama Series Small Axe Nominated [37]
Best Actress Letitia Wright Nominated
Best Actor Shaun Parkes Nominated
Best Writer Steve McQueen, Courttia Newland, Rebecca Lenkiewicz and Alastair Siddons Nominated
Breakthrough Award Amarah-Jae St. Aubyn Nominated
British Academy Television Awards Best Mini-Series Steve McQueen, Tracey Scoffield, David Tanner, Michael Elliott, Anita Overland Nominated [38]
Best Actor John Boyega (for "Red, White and Blue") Nominated
Shaun Parkes (for "Mangrove") Nominated
Best Actress Letitia Wright (for "Mangrove") Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Malachi Kirby (for "Mangrove") Won
Micheal Ward (for "Lovers Rock") Nominated
British Academy Television Craft Awards Best Costume Design Jacqueline Durran Won
Best Director: Fiction Steve McQueen Nominated
Best Editing: Fiction Chris Dickens and Steve McQueen Nominated
Best Make Up and Hair Design Jojo Williams Won
Best Photography & Lighting: Fiction Shabier Kirchner Won
Best Production Design Helen Scott Won
Best Scripted Casting Gary Davy Won
Best Sound: Fiction Paul Cotterell, James Harrison, Ronald Bailey Nominated
Best Writer: Drama Alastair Siddons and Steve McQueen Nominated
Chicago Film Critics Association Awards Best Film Lovers Rock Nominated [39]
Best Director Steve McQueen (for "Lovers Rock") Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Letitia Wright (for "Mangrove") Nominated
Best Cinematography Shabier Kirchner (for "Lovers Rock") Nominated
Best Editing Chris Dickens and Steve McQueen (for "Lovers Rock") Nominated
Critics' Choice Television Awards Best Actor in a Limited Series or Movie Made for Television John Boyega (for "Red, White and Blue") Won [40]
Golden Globe Awards Best Limited Series or Television Film Small Axe Nominated [41]
Best Supporting Actor – Television John Boyega Won
Hollywood Critics Association TV Awards Best Streaming Limited Series, Anthology Series or Live-Action Television Movie Small Axe Nominated [42]
Best Supporting Actor in a Limited Series, Anthology Series or Television Movie John Boyega Nominated
Independent Spirit Awards Best New Scripted Series Small Axe Nominated [43]
London Film Critics Circle Awards Film of the Year Lovers Rock Nominated [44]
Director of the Year Small Axe Won
Supporting Actor of the Year Shaun Parkes Won
Attenborough Award for British/Irish Film of the Year Lovers Rock Nominated
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards Best Picture Small Axe Won [45]
Best Director Steve McQueen Runner-up
Best Cinematography Shabier Kirchner Won
Best Music Mica Levi (for "Lovers Rock") Runner-up
NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Directing in a Drama Series Steve McQueen (for "Mangrove") Nominated [46]
New York Film Critics Circle Awards Best Cinematographer Shabier Kirchner Won [47]
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Cinematography for a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie Shabier Kirchner (for "Mangrove") Nominated [48]
RTS Programme Awards Mini-Series Small Axe Nominated [49]
Actor - Male Shaun Parkes Won
Writer - Drama Steve McQueen and Alistair Siddeon Nominated
Satellite Awards Best Miniseries & Limited Series Small Axe Nominated [50]
Best Actor in a Miniseries or TV Film John Boyega Nominated
Best Actress in a Miniseries or TV Film Letitia Wright Nominated

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Rose, Steve (18 December 2020). "The 50 best TV shows of 2020, No 3: Small Axe". www.theguardian.com. Retrieved 17 January 2021.
  2. ^ White, Peter (10 September 2019). "'Small Axe': BBC Unveils First-Look At Steve McQueen Period Drama". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 3 June 2020.
  3. ^ Aquillina, Tyler (19 September 2020). "See John Boyega and Letitia Wright in new trailer for Steve McQueen's Small Axe anthology". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 19 September 2020.
  4. ^ a b Kanter, Jake (7 October 2020). "'Small Axe': Steve McQueen's Anthology Drama Gets BBC Premiere Date". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 8 October 2020.
  5. ^ Duffield, Charlie (10 November 2020). "Small Axe: Mangrove cast: Who stars in the first film of Steve McQueen's series, and when it's on BBC One". inews.co.uk. Retrieved 17 November 2020.
  6. ^ Watson, Fay (12 December 2020). "Small Axe BBC release date: How many episodes are in Small Axe?". Express.co.uk. Retrieved 27 December 2020.
  7. ^ Beck, Lia (21 November 2020). "Steve McQueen's Small Axe Film Series Deserves Your Attention". Refinery29. Retrieved 27 December 2020.
  8. ^ BBC (18 November 2020). "Steve McQueen's new film about a peaceful protest gone wrong". YouTube. Retrieved 28 November 2020.
  9. ^ a b c Clark, Ashley (11 November 2020). "In 'Small Axe,' Steve McQueen Explores Britain's Caribbean Heritage". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 29 November 2020.
  10. ^ Tartaglione, Nancy (10 January 2014). "Steve McQueen, BBC Developing Drama Series On The Black Experience In Britain". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 3 June 2020.
  11. ^ Tartaglione, Nancy (26 August 2015). "BBC Details Steve McQueen Drama; Sets Motown-Themed Series – Edinburgh". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 3 June 2020.
  12. ^ White, Peter (25 June 2019). "Amazon Boards '12 Years A Slave' Director Steve McQueen's Forthcoming BBC West Indian Drama 'Small Axe'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 3 June 2020.
  13. ^ Wiseman, Andreas (26 June 2019). "Letitia Wright & John Boyega Lead Cast In Steve McQueen BBC TV Drama 'Small Axe'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 3 June 2020.
  14. ^ Kanter, Jake (16 January 2020). "BAFTA Rising Star Nominee Micheal Ward Lands A Lead Role In Steve McQueen's 'Small Axe'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 3 June 2020.
  15. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (3 August 2020). "New York Film Festival Sets Steve McQueen's 'Lovers Rock' For Opening Night; Drive-Ins, Virtual Showings To Supplement Possible Lincoln Center Screenings". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 3 August 2020.
  16. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (16 September 2020). "Steve McQueen On Capturing The Joys & Struggles With Racism Of London's '70s Black West Indies Culture In NYFF Opening Night Film 'Lovers Rock'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 5 October 2020.
  17. ^ Lang, Brent (3 August 2020). "Steve McQueen's 'Lovers Rock' to Open New York Film Festival". Variety. Retrieved 3 August 2020.
  18. ^ Navedo, Raul (25 September 2020). "Mangrove Review | NYFF". Minorities Report. Retrieved 19 November 2020.
  19. ^ "Mangrove". New York Film Festival. 2020. Retrieved 5 October 2020.
  20. ^ "Red White and Blue". New York Film Festival. 2020. Retrieved 5 October 2020.
  21. ^ Ramachandran, Naman (26 August 2020). "Saoirse Ronan, Kate Winslet Drama 'Ammonite' to Close BFI London Film Festival". Variety. Retrieved 15 September 2020.
  22. ^ Ritman, Alex (23 September 2020). "Steve McQueen's 'Lovers Rock' Added to London Film Festival". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 5 October 2020.
  23. ^ "Lovers Rock". BFI London Film Festival. 2020. Retrieved 5 October 2020.
  24. ^ "Steve McQueen's 'Small Axe' Premieres November 20 on Amazon Prime Video in the US". The Futon Critic. 20 September 2020. Retrieved 5 October 2020.
  25. ^ "The 50 best films of 2020". Sight & Sound. British Film Institute. 11 December 2020. Retrieved 17 July 2021.
  26. ^ "Mangrove". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved 7 March 2021.
  27. ^ Mangrove at Metacritic. Retrieved 20 December 2020.
  28. ^ "Lovers Rock". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved 7 March 2021.
  29. ^ Lovers Rock at Metacritic. Retrieved 20 December 2020.
  30. ^ "Red, White and Blue". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved 7 March 2021.
  31. ^ Red, White and Blue at Metacritic. Retrieved 20 December 2020.
  32. ^ "Alex Wheatle". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved 7 March 2021.
  33. ^ Alex Wheatle at Metacritic. Retrieved 20 December 2020.
  34. ^ "Education". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved 7 March 2021.
  35. ^ "Education". Metacritic. Red Ventures. Retrieved 7 March 2021.
  36. ^ Davis, Clayton (13 December 2020). "'Nomadland' Named Best Picture at Boston Society of Film Critics Awards, Paul Raci and Yuh-jung Youn Among Winners". Variety. Retrieved 13 December 2020.
  37. ^ Kantner, Jake (12 March 2021). "'I May Destroy You' & Michaela Coel Win Big At Broadcasting Press Guild Awards". Deadline Hollywood.
  38. ^ "BAFTA TV 2021: Nominations for the Virgin Media British Academy Television Awards and British Academy Television Craft Awards". www.bafta.org. 28 April 2021. Retrieved 28 April 2021.
  39. ^ Adams, Ryan (18 December 2020). "Chloe Zhao's Nomadland Leads Chicago Film Critics Association 2020 Nominations". AwardsDaily. Retrieved 22 December 2020.
  40. ^ Ramos, Dino-Ray (18 January 2021). "Critics Choice Awards TV Nominations: 'Ozark', 'The Crown' & Netflix Lead". Deadline. Retrieved 19 January 2021.
  41. ^ Oganesyan, Natalie; Jordan Moreau (3 February 2021). "Golden Globes 2021: The Complete Nominations List". Variety. Retrieved 3 February 2021.
  42. ^ "Ted Lasso, The Handmaid's Tale, and Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist lead Inaugural HCA TV Awards Nominations – Hollywood Critics Association". Retrieved 11 July 2021.
  43. ^ Lewis, Hilary (26 January 2021). "Film Independent Spirit Awards: 'Never Rarely Sometimes Always,' 'Minari,' 'Ma Rainey's Black Bottom,' 'Nomadland' Top Nominations". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 26 January 2021.
  44. ^ Cline, Rich (12 January 2021). "Female Filmmakers Lead Nominees for Critics Circle Film Awards". London Film Critics' Circle. Retrieved 13 January 2021.
  45. ^ Alter, Rebecca (20 December 2020). "The L.A. Film Critics Association Names Small Axe Their Best Picture of 2020". Vulture. Retrieved 22 December 2020.
  46. ^ Del Rosario, Alexandra (2 February 2021). "NAACP Image Awards Nominations: Netflix Tops List With 'Bridgerton', 'Ma Rainey's Black Bottom' & 'Da 5 Bloods'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 3 February 2021.
  47. ^ Lindahl, Chris; Blauvelt, Christian (18 December 2020). "New York Film Critics Circle 2020 Winners: 'First Cow,' Chadwick Boseman, and More". IndieWire. Retrieved 22 December 2020.
  48. ^ "Small Axe". Emmys.com. Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Retrieved 13 July 2021.
  49. ^ "Winners of the RTS Programme Awards 2021 announced". Royal Television Society. 16 March 2021.
  50. ^ Van Blaricom, Mirjana (1 February 2021). "25th Satellite Awards Nominees for Motion Pictures and Television Announced". International Press Academy. Retrieved 1 February 2021.

External linksEdit