Small Axe (TV Mini-Series 2020– )
|Content Rating||TV-MA (TV-MA)|
|Awards||Nominated for 2 Golden Globes. Another 8 wins & 25 nominations.|
|Company||British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Turbine Studios, Lammas Park|
Small Axe (anthology)
Small Axe is a British anthology film series, created and directed by Steve McQueen. The anthology consists of five films which tell distinct stories about the lives of West Indian immigrants in London from the 1960s to the 1980s. 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. The title references a proverb – "If you are the big tree, we are the small axe" – that was popularised by Bob Marley in his 1973 song "Small Axe".
|Title||Director||Screenwriters||UK release date||US release date|
|Mangrove||Steve McQueen||McQueen and Alastair Siddons||15 November 2020||20 November 2020|
|Lovers Rock||McQueen and Courttia Newland||22 November 2020||27 November 2020|
|Red, White and Blue||29 November 2020||4 December 2020|
|Alex Wheatle||McQueen and Alastair Siddons||6 December 2020||11 December 2020|
|Education||13 December 2020||18 December 2020|
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. 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. 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. In August 2015, it was announced that the series would air on BBC One. In June 2019, Amazon Prime Video was announced to be distributing the series in the United States, with Amazon Studios co-producing. The screenwriters include the British-Caribbean novelist Courttia Newland, author of The Gospel According to Cane (2013), and Alastair Siddons.
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. In January 2020, Micheal Ward joined the cast of the series.
Lovers Rock had its world premiere as the opener of the 58th New York Film Festival on 17 September 2020. Mangrove had its world premiere at the festival on 25 September, and Red, White, and Blue on 3 October. Mangrove also opened the 64th BFI London Film Festival on 7 October 2020; Lovers Rock screened at the same festival on 18 October.
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.
The series received acclaim from critics. Josh Larsen compared McQueen's achievement to Krzysztof Kieślowski's Dekalog: "If Kieslowski's Decalogue is considered a pinnacle of the art form, McQueen's Small Axe deserves nothing less." Alissa Wilkinson of Vox called each instalment in the anthology "exquisite", "a remarkable achievement", and "exquisitely crafted".
Reviews of each individual film were positive. All five films received approval ratings of over 90% on the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, while Metacritic assigned four of the five a score indicating "universal acclaim".
|Film||Rotten Tomatoes rating||Metacritic rating|
|Mangrove||98% approval (9/10 average)||90 (26 critics)|
|Lovers Rock||97% approval (8.79/10 average)||95 (27 critics)|
|Red, White and Blue||97% approval (8.42/10 average)||84 (18 critics)|
|Alex Wheatle||97% approval (7.4/10 average)||77 (17 critics)|
|Education||94% approval (8.11/10 average)||88 (13 critics)|
|Boston Society of Film Critics Awards||Best Cinematography||Shabier Kirchner (for "Lovers Rock")||Runner-up|
|Chicago Film Critics Association Awards||Best Film||Lovers Rock||Nominated|
|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")||Pending|
|Golden Globe Awards||Best Limited Series or Television Film||Small Axe||Pending|
|Best Supporting Actor – Television||John Boyega||Pending|
|Independent Spirit Awards||Best New Scripted Series||Small Axe||Pending|
|Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards||Best Picture||Small Axe||Won|
|Best Director||Steve McQueen||Runner-up|
|Best Cinematography||Shabier Kirchner||Won|
|Best Music||Mica Levi (for "Lovers Rock")||Runner-up|
|New York Film Critics Circle Awards||Best Cinematographer||Shabier Kirchner||Won|
|Satellite Awards||Best Miniseries & Limited Series||Small Axe||Pending|
|Best Actor in a Miniseries or TV Film||John Boyega||Pending|
|Best Actress in a Miniseries or TV Film||Letitia Wright||Pending|