September is shaping up to be a great month for fans of Steve McQueen. Amazon announced on Monday that three of the Academy Award-winning filmmaker’s new documentaries will premiere on the Prime Video streaming service in September. McQueen co-directed one of the three films and produced each one.
All three documentaries — “Uprising,” “Black Power: A British Story of Resistance,” and “Subnormal: A British Scandal” — explore key themes and events depicted in McQueen’s award-winning “Small Axe“ anthology, which is currently streaming on Prime Video. Each documentary features first-hand interviews with key participants in the events, many of whom are telling their stories for the first time. McQueen is an executive producer on all three documentaries alongside James Rogan, Tracey Scoffield, and Soleta Rogan. The documentaries will premiere on September 17.
Per Amazon, “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.
The company’s synopsis for “Black Power: A British Story of Resistance,” which is directed by the BAFTA-nominated George Amponsah, reads: 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.
“It is an honor to make ‘Uprising’ with testimonials from the survivors, investigators, activists, and representatives of the machinery of state,” McQueen said in a statement. We can only learn if we look at things through the eyes of everyone concerned; 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.”
“Uprising” marks McQueen’s second television directing credit. He previously directed acclaimed films such as 2018’s “Widows” and 2013’s “12 Years a Slave.” McQueen signed an overall deal with Amazon in 2020.