Amazon Prime Video has announced three new documentaries from Academy Award-winning director Steve McQueen. Picking up on themes from his Emmy-winning Small Axe anthology for the streamer, the new documentaries examine important moments in Black British history. The announcement was accompanied by trailers and clips from the upcoming films, offering a glimpse of their approach to the material.
Uprising, which McQueen co-directed with documentarian James Rogan, is a three-part series, each episode examining a key event from 1981: The New Cross Fire, the Black People’s Day of Action, and the Brixton riots. “The New Cross Fire that claimed the lives of so many young people and affected many more remains one of the biggest losses of life in a house fire in modern British history,” said Rogan. “What happened, and how Britain responded to it, is a story that has been waiting to be told in depth for 40 years.”
“We can only learn if we look at things through the eyes of everyone concerned,” said McQueen. “The New Cross Fire passed into history as a tragic footnote, but that event and its aftermath can now be seen as momentous events in our nation’s history.”
Black Power: A British Story of Resistance, directed by George Amponsah, examines the origins of the Black Power movement in the UK in the late ’60s, and how the movement permanently changed the cultural landscape. The film details some of the leading figures in the Black Power movement in the UK, including Altheia Jones-LeCointe, Darcus Howe, and Roy Sawh. Additionally, Amponsah has uncovered rare archival footage of Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and Stokely Carmichael’s speeches and activities in Britain.
Subnormal: A British Scandal, directed by Lyttanya Shannon, examines how institutional racism in the ’60s and ’70s led to black children being relegated to schools for the “educationally subnormal” at disproportionate rates. Considered one of the biggest scandals in the history of British education, the film explores its impact on the children it affected, and reveals how Black teachers, parents, and activists exposed the injustice, ultimately forcing the British educational system to change.
“Looking at the past is an indication of what we have achieved today,” said McQueen about Black Power and Submormal. “These two documentaries show us of how far we still have to travel for liberty and justice.”
All three documentaries will be available on Amazon Prime Video on September 17. Check out the trailers and clips for the films below.