New York Film Festival Set to Open With Steve McQueen’s 'Lovers Rock'

New York Film Festival Set to Open With Steve McQueen’s 'Lovers Rock'

New York Film Festival Set to Open With Steve McQueen’s 'Lovers Rock'

The Oscar-winning director will debut three original films during the event.

The Oscar-winning director will debut three original films during the event.

Text: Mili Godio

Despite a global pandemic, the New York Film Festival is still expected to occur this fall – with added safety measures, of course. Outdoor and virtual screenings (as well as some indoor showings if given a green light by health officials) will be available at the iconic festival, which will kick off with the premiere of Oscar-winning director Steve McQueen’s latest work, Lovers Rock.

With the unique circumstances brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, it comes as no surprise that Lovers Rock isn’t really a film in the traditional sense, but rather a part of McQueen’s five-part anthology titled Small Axe. The film series tells a story of London’s West Indian community and their struggles against racism from the ‘60s to the ‘80s. Apart from Lovers Rock, the anthology series includes Mangrove, Alex Wheatle, Education, and Red, White, and Blue. Of those films, Mangrove and Red, White, and Blue will also be shown at the festival.

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We’re thrilled to announce that Steve McQueen’s Lovers Rock will World Premiere as the Opening Night Film of the 58th New York Film Festival! Lovers Rock is part of the #SmallAxe anthology, which comprises five original films by Academy Award, BAFTA, and Golden Globe-winning filmmaker Steve McQueen, which will premiere on @BBCOne later this year and air on @AmazonPrimeVideo in the US. Of historic note for the festival, two other films from the anthology, Mangrove and Red, White and Blue, will also have their World Premieres as part of this year’s Main Slate. Set from the late 1960s to the mid-1980s, the films each tell a different story involving London's West Indian community, whose lives have been shaped by their own force of will despite rampant racism and discrimination. “It’s an incredible honor 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. The 58th edition of #NYFF will focus on outdoor and virtual screenings with indoor screenings as possible and directed by state and health officials. In an unprecedented collaboration, @FilmLinc is proud to partner with arts and cultural institutions from across the city this year to share films with New York City communities at two drive-ins. See the full announcement at filmlinc.org/loversrock #stevemcqueen #loversrock

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McQueen, who previously directed 12 Years A Slave and Widows, will join Martin Scorsese, David Fincher, and Yorgos Lanthimos on the impressive list of directors who have screened opening-night films at NYFF.

“It’s an incredible honor and also very humbling to show three of my films at the New York Film Festival,” the director said in a statement. “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.”

Lovers Rock follows the fictional story of young love at a 1980’s blues party. Co-written by McQueen and Courttia Newland, the film stars Amarah-Jae St. Aubyn in her on-screen debut, as well as Micheal Ward (Top Boy) and Shaniqua Okwok (Boys).

“For months we’ve worked to both sustain and refresh NYFF — a champion of film as art since 1963 — and we’re honored 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,” said Eugene Hernandez, director of the New York Film Festival.

Details for the 58th Annual New York Film Festival will be made available later this year.

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