The masterful work of Academy Award winning director Steve McQueen spans an impressive set of genres, from films to anthology series, and now the 12 Years a Slave director has three new documentaries coming to Amazon Prime. Last year, we spoke to the talented leads in McQueen’s anthology Small Axe that examined the real-life experiences of West Indians living in mid-20th century London.
Amazon Prime announced this week that three new documentaries will be making their way to Prime Video September 17. Black Power: A British Story of Resistance, Subnormal: A British Scandal, and Uprising hope to continue the conversation of the Black experience in of those in 20th century London and highlight some of the most caustic events that transpired during that time.
The following details comes courtesy of Amazon’s announcement:
Uprising is a vivid and visceral three-part documentary series (comprised of three hour-long episodes) examining three events from 1981 in the UK: The New Cross Fire that killed 13 Black youths, the Black People’s Day of Action, which saw more than 20,000 people join the first organized mass protest by Black British people, and the Brixton riots. Uprising will reveal how these three events are intertwined, and how, in the process, race relations were defined for a generation.
Black Power: A British Story of Resistance, directed by BAFTA-nominated director George Amponsah, is a searing 90-minute account of the Black Power movement in Britain. The documentary examines how the Black Power movement came into being in the UK in the late 1960s and fought back against police brutality and racism, challenging the British establishment and helping to shape a new political and cultural landscape in the UK. It features rare archival footage of Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and Stokely Carmichael’s activities in Britain, and footage of leading figures in the movement in the UK, including Altheia Jones-LeCointe, Darcus Howe, and Roy Sawh.
Subnormal: A British Scandal, directed by Lyttanya Shannon, is an hour-long documentary examining one of the biggest scandals in the history of British education, where Black children in the 1960s and ‘70s were disproportionately sent to schools for the so-called “educationally subnormal.” It explores the controversial debates on race and intelligence that led to the scandal, the devastating impact it had on the children affected, and illuminates how Black parents, teachers, and activists banded together to expose the injustice and force the British educational system to change.
The documentaries look to highlight the significant conversations surrounding systemic forms of oppression and racist institutions that have impacted Black communities in London for generations. McQueen’s work often highlights these issues but also recontextualizes them through the lens of a narrative that is both necessary and profound. The films are set to premiere on Friday, September 17 on Amazon Prime Video in the U.S. and Canada.