“LOVERS ROCK” & “RED, WHITE AND BLUE” co-written by Steve McQueen and Courttia Newland for Steve McQueen’s five-part anthology series – Small Axe.

Small Axe is a series of 5 films by award-winning director Steve McQueen, which celebrate West Indians In Britain. The five-part anthology series takes its title from a West Indian proverb about collective struggle (“If you are the big tree, we are the small axe”) and encompasses true stories from the late 60s to mid 80s. The films each tell a story involving London’s West Indian community, a celebration of Black joy, beauty, friendship, love, music and food, despite subjection to rampant racism and discrimination.

It is no surprise that our own Courttia Newland is a part of this iconic moment for Black British film and TV, having co-written the screenplay to two of the five films in the anthology series – LOVERS ROCK and RED, WHITE AND BLUE.

LOVERS ROCK tells a fictional story of young love at a Blues party in 1980. The film is an ode to the romantic reggae genre, Lovers Rock, and to the Black youth who found freedom and love in its sound in London house parties when they were unwelcome in white nightclubs. A vital exploration of cultural identity.

RED, WHITE AND BLUE tells the true story of Leroy Logan (John Boyega), a young forensic scientist with a yearning to do more than his solitary laboratory work. When he sees his father assaulted by two policemen, he finds himself driven to revisiting a childhood ambition to become a police officer – an ambition borne from the naïve hope of wanting to change racist attitudes from within. Small Axe provides long-overdue representation for viewers of Caribbean descent, opening up a space on television for the celebration of British-Caribbean Culture. These luminous stories are powerful recreations of the history of Black Britain. A landmark moment for British film and television.

Watch the Small Axe series here

Courttia Newland’s forthcoming book A River Called Time is out 7th January 2021.


Pre-order your copy here.