British filmmaker Steve McQueen, director of ‘Hunger’, ‘Shame’ and the Academy Award-winning ’12 Years a Slave’, will showcase a new film from his forthcoming BBC and Amazon Prime anthology ‘Small Axe’ at this year’s BFI London Film Festival. ‘Lovers Rock’ follows a blossoming romance at a blues party in Notting Hill in 1980, and is one of five new films from McQueen about ordinary black people in Britain overcoming injustice within their community.
The film takes its title from the romantic reggae sub-genre of the same name popularised in London in the late ’70s. Sometimes described as “the reggae Motown”, lovers rock was considered a lyrical counterpoint to more politically-conscious Jamaican reggae. Initially inspired by the slower grooves of John Holt and Gregory Isaacs, it eventually reached the mainstream through artists like Brown Sugar, Dennis Brown and even The Clash, who referred to the sub-genre through a song of the same name on seminal 1979 album’ London Calling’.
McQueen’s fictional story follows a group of black youths at a London house party during a period when West Indian and African people were far less welcome at white nightclubs. Through the music of songs like Janet Kay’s ‘Silly Games’ and even Carl Douglas’ ‘Kung Fu Fighting’, the characters of ‘Lovers Rock’ find love, liberation and community through music in an essential London scene rarely explored in cinema.
‘Lovers Rock’ will premiere in the UK on Sunday 18 October via the BFI Player. The full ‘Small Axe’ collection will be available via Amazon Prime and BBC One in November.