The European Premiere of MANGROVE, which opens this years Film Festival , is one of five films from the Small Axe anthology which will play for free to audiences at BFI Southbank and in selected cinemas across the UK

The BFI London Film Festival in partnership with American Express is thrilled to announce that this year’s Opening film will be MANGROVE, directed by the multi-award-winning visual artist and filmmaker Steve M cQueen, starring Letitia Wright, Shaun Parkes and Malachi Kirby. The film will receive its European premiere on Wednesday 7th October as part of the Festival’s innovative 12-day offering which takes the entire Festival out to cities around the UK, and with many films across programme also available for virtual premieres at home.

Marking 50 years since the events depicted in the film, MANGROVE tells the true story of the Mangrove 9, the group of Black activists who clashed with London police during a protest march in 1970 and their highly publicised trial that followed. The trial was the first judicial acknowledgment of behaviour motivated by racial hatred within the Metropolitan Police. MANGROVE is co-written by Steve McQueen and Alastair Siddons.

The film is one of five films from Small Axe, a drama anthology which comprises five original films created by Steve McQueen for BBC One.

This year, Festival audiences will be invited to book tickets to preview the film for free at venues across the UK on Wednesday 7th October ahead of its broadcast on BBC One this autumn.

Mangrove will open this years BFI London Film Festival - image courtesy of The BBC

Ammonite starring Kate Winslet closes this years BFI London Film Festival

MANGROVE Director, Steve McQueen said: “I couldn’t be happier that MANGROVE will open this year's BFI London Film Festival. Although the themes are universal, MANGROVE is a London story. It may have happened fifty years ago, but it’s as relevant today as it was then.”

BFI London Film Festival Director, Tricia Tuttle said: “This new series from Oscar-winning director and BFI Fellow Steve M cQueen could not be more timely in the context of recent global protests around anti-Black racism and inequality, and McQueen has been a powerful voice in challenging the status quo and demanding inclusion within the British film industry. His Widows also opened the 62nd BFI London Film Festival in 2018 and we have never had the same filmmaker open the LFF twice in such a close time frame; that’s both a testament to the urgency of the film and potency of his filmmaking.”


The UK Premiere of AMMONITE will screen to audiences at BFI Southbank and in selected cinemas across the UK

The BFI London Film Festival in partnership with American Express is delighted to announce that this year’s Closing film will be the biopic AMMONITE, directed by Francis Lee, starring Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan and produced by See-Saw Films. The film will receive its UK premiere on Saturday 17th October and will be available to UK audiences at cinemas across UK who will also enjoy a virtual introduction from Lee and key cast.

In the 1840s, acclaimed self-taught paleontologist Mary Anning (Winslet) works alone on the wild and brutal Southern English coastline of Lyme Regis. The days of her famed discoveries behind her, she now hunts for common fossils to sell to rich tourists to support herself and her ailing widowed mother. When one such tourist, Roderick Murchison, arrives in Lyme on the first leg of a European tour, he entrusts Mary with the care of his young wife Charlotte (Ronan), who is recuperating from a personal tragedy. Mary, whose life is a daily struggle on the poverty line, cannot afford to turn him down but, proud and relentlessly passionate about her work, she clashes with her unwanted guest. They are two women from utterly different worlds. Yet despite the chasm between their social spheres and personalities, Mary and Charlotte discover they can each offer what the other has been searching for: the realisation that they are not alone. It is the beginning of a passionate and all-consuming love affair that will defy all social bounds and alter the course of both lives irrevocably.

Both a heartfelt love-story and an examination of gender, class and society, AMMONITE brings to life in vivid detail the life of a woman unappreciated in her own time. A pioneering paleontologist and passionate fossil collector, Anning’s findings contributed to changes in scientific thinking around the prehistory of the Earth and saw her named as one of the most influential women in British scientific history by the Royal Society after her death.


Ammonite Trailer

AMMONITE Director , Francis Lee said: ‘I’m thrilled AMMONITE has been chosen to close the BFI London Film Festival. In these incredibly difficult times, it’s wonderful to see this film about intimacy, love and hope getting its U.K. premiere at LFF’

The film is co-financed by the BFI (awarding National Lottery funding) and BBC Films. See-Saw Films developed the film with the BFI and BBC Films. The BFI’s relationship with Lee goes back to 2015 with his hugely successful debut, God’s Own Country, which received development and production funding. The film is produced by Iain Canning, Emile Sherman and Fodhla Cronin O’Reilly.

BFI London Film Festival Director , Tricia Tuttle said: “We were huge admirers of Francis Lee’s debut and it’s a pleasure to have him close the 2020 BFI London Film Festival with his sublime second feature, AMMONITE. Francis has the ability to place love stories of breath-taking intimacy within a rich socio-political context, always with a delicate touch, and here offers reflections on class difference and the erasure of women from scientific history. In Saoirse Ronan and Kate Winslet, AMMONITE features two enthralling and gifted leads; Kate in particular, who appears in almost every scene, gives a fearless and complex performance as the brilliant, proud Mary Anning”.

AMMONITE is one of thirteen other highly-anticipated new films from the programme that will screen in previews across the UK, in partnership with UK-wide cinemas network, offering audiences across the UK a unique chance to engage with the Festival. The previously announced MANGROVE will open this year’s 64th BFI London Film Festival. Many of the films will also screen in the Festival’s Virtual Festival home on BFI Player, with over 55 new feature films from around the world premiering on the digital platform over the course of the BFI London Film Festival.

Confirmed venues taking part in the Closing film preview include: Broadway, Nottingham, Cine Lumiere, Curzon Mayfair, Curzon Soho, Glasgow Film Theatre, HOME, Manchester, ICA, Prince Charles Cinema, Queen's Film Theatre, Belfast, Showroom, Sheffield, Watershed, Bristol, Chapter Cardiff. Further sites to be added.