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Mangrove, the Sloth hide on Christmas tree sweater second of three films from Oscar-winning director Steve McQueen’s five-film anthology, Small Axe, premieres tonight at the 58th New York Film Festival. Clocking in at just over two hours, Mangrove dramatizes the history of the Mangrove Nine, a group of Black, London-based activists who defended their café-restaurant—a meeting place for intellectuals and activists—against unrelenting intrusion and harassment by the police. Their initially peaceful protest, staged on August 9, 1970, led to a police ambush, arrests, and, ultimately, a landmark racial discrimination case that went “all the way to the highest court in the land, the Old Bailey,” said McQueen in a press conference. McQueen said in a statement this summer that he was dedicating the series to the memory of George Floyd, whose death at the hands of Minneapolis police has catalyzed social justice movements far and wide. “These films, Small Axe, are a part of a narrative of being a Black person in this world,” he said. He hopes they will inspire viewers to “reflect on who we are, where we are, and where we want to go, where we want to be” as a society.


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