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Steve McQueen’s Axe falls on int’l nets

Mangrove, one of the five films that make up Small Axe

Broadcasters and platforms around the world have acquired Small Axe, the first television project by 12 Years a Slave director Steve McQueen, from distributor BBC Studios.

The BBC1 drama anthology series is made up of five original films by Oscar, Bafta and Golden Globe winner McQueen.

Coproduced with Amazon Prime Video in the US, it has been pre-sold to Foxtel Group in Australia, Salto in France, Movistar+ in Spain, KinoPoisk in Russia and Cosmote TV in Greece.

The series will also premiere on BBC First channels across Asia, Benelux and Turkey and on BBC Brit in South Africa.

A Turbine Studios production for BBC1 in association with Lammas Park and EMU Films, Small Axe is set from the late 1960s to the mid-1980s and features an all-star British cast, including John Boyega (Star Wars) and Letitia Wright (Black Panther).

Each film tells a different story involving London’s West Indian community, showing how their lives have been shaped by their own force of will despite racism and discrimination.

Two of the films – Mangrove and Lovers Rock – are part of the Cannes 2020 Official Selection.

McQueen said: “I’m very excited that Small Axe will reach so many audiences globally. As much as the five films take place in London, their themes are universal and timely.”

Small Axe is executive produced by Tracey Scoffield and David Tanner for Turbine Studios and McQueen for Lammas Park. Mike Elliot is producing for EMU Films with Turbine and Anita Overland.

The executive producers for the BBC are Lucy Richer, senior commissioning editor for drama, and Rose Garnett, director of BBC Film.

Pre-sales for the anthology series have been announced as BBC Studios launches BBC Studios Connect, its virtual distribution outlet for international buyers, during the Mipcom period.

As well as Small Axe, other BBC Studios scripted titles available at Mipcom include The Pursuit of Love, The Northwater, The Watch, Wakefield, The Diplomat and Life.


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