It’s not every year a major film festival offers the world premiere of a major auteur’s new project for free, which makes the New York Film Festival’s decision to offer free tickets to Steve McQueen’s “Mangrove” a notable one. The festival has announced all remaining tickets to the September 25 world premiere screening of “Mangrove” will be free “in recognition of current events, the injustice of the Breonna Taylor ruling, and the courageous efforts of protestors around the globe.”

“Mangrove” stars “Black Panther” favorite Letitia Wright opposite Shaun Parkes, Malachi Kirby, Jack Lowden, and more. McQueen, who co-wrote the film with Alastair Siddons, recreates the true story of the Mangrove Nine, a group of Black British activists who were arrested for inciting a riot during a 1970 protest against the police. The film covers the protest and the 55-day trial. “Mangrove” is one of five movies that make up McQueen’s “Small Axe” anthology series, which the director revealed earlier this year is dedicated to the memory of George Floyd. The films begin rolling out November 20 on Amazon Prime.

“I dedicate these films to George Floyd and all the other black people that have been murdered, seen or unseen, because of who they are, in the US, UK and elsewhere,” McQueen said in June, shortly after “Mangrove” and fellow anthology entry “Lovers Rock” were confirmed as selections of the 2020 Cannes Film Festival. “If you are the big tree, we are the small axe. Black Lives Matter.”

In addition to offering “Mangrove” for free, the NYFF programming team also announced this week it has removed Oliver Shahery’s documentary short “Wild Bill Horsecock” from its virtual screening platform. The movie centers on Nashville country singer Hayes Johnson, and his “unambiguous history of sexual misconduct is referenced extensively.” NYFF said it recognized “the real harm that our presentation of the film would cause” after “individual survivors and their advocates came forward.”

“In light of this harm, we feel the need to respond by removing it from the program,” a NYFF statement reads. “We came to this decision after much consideration and deliberation, in an effort to reconcile our commitment to freedom of expression with our commitment to supporting and amplifying the voices of survivors of sexual assault.”

Visit NYFF’s website to read more on the removal of “Wild Bill Horsecock.” See the posts below for more information on the free “Mangrove” screening.

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