Activists Tap ‘Three Billboards’ Messaging for Grenfell Justice and Gun Control

The fiery spirit of Mildred Hayes, the headstrong seeker of justice played by actress Frances McDormand in Martin McDonagh’s Oscar-nominated film “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” is alive and well in the hearts of activists on both sides of the Atlantic.

A trio of mobile billboards has been deployed around London seeking answers in the September 2017 Grenfell Tower public housing blaze that claimed 71 lives. Spinning off the eponymous red and black facades in McDonagh’s film, the mobile billboards — created by the Justice 4 Grenfell activist organization — read: “71 DEAD.” “AND STILL NO ARRESTS?” “HOW COME?”

Meanwhile, a similar display has unfolded in the Miami area after a gunman killed 17 people in the latest stateside school shooting on Feb. 14. Organized by online activist network Avaaz, these three billboards call out Senator Marco Rubio for his inaction in curbing gun violence: “SLAUGHTERED IN SCHOOL” “AND STILL NO GUN CONTROL?” “HOW COME, MARCO RUBIO?” The truck-mounted billboards were spotted near Rubio’s Doral, Fla., office on Friday.

In McDonagh’s film, Mildred seeks answers in the case of her raped and murdered daughter with a trio of signs calling out the local sheriff, played by Woody Harrelson. It has become a controversial contender this season, deemed tone-deaf in some quarters for its handling of racism.

“I think some of [the criticism] comes from the idea that Sam [Rockwell]’s character is redeemed at the end of the film, and I don’t think he is,” McDonagh told Variety in his first address of the controversy last month. “The film isn’t about simple heroes and villains, and in no way does he become a hero in it. Part of the whole idea of the story is, ‘Who are the heroes and who are the villains and is anyone really that heroic?’ … The idea that there’s hope in a story like this, even with characters as despicable as Sam’s, I thought that was an interesting thing to explore.”

Despite the controversy, “Three Billboards” received top honors from regional film critics in Hawaii, Phoenix, Las Vegas, and London, as well as the Screen Actors Guild’s ensemble prize and the Golden Globe for best drama.

McDonagh’s film was ultimately nominated for seven Oscars including best picture, actress, supporting actor, and original screenplay. On Sunday, the film will compete for nine British Academy awards including best film, best British film, and best director.

More Film

  • Matt Smith

    Matt Smith, 'Leave No Trace' Star Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie Circle Edgar Wright Movie

    Matt Smith and “Leave No Trace” star Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie are in negotiations to join Edgar Wright’s next film, “Last Night in Soho,” sources tell Variety. Details are vague about the psychological horror movie, other than it being set in London’s Soho district. Anya Taylor Joy is also in the cast. Production is expected to [...]

  • Vice Media

    Vice Media Taps Joe Simon as Chief Technology Officer (EXCLUSIVE)

    Joe Simon has been tapped as chief technology officer at Vice Media. The newly created role will include oversight of data analytics, engineering, information technology, media operations, media technology, post production, and systems management. Prior to Vice, Simon spent three years as Encompass Digital Media’s chief operating officer. Previously he held the chief technology officer [...]

  • Michael B Jordan denzel washington

    Michael B. Jordan to Star in Denzel Washington's 'Journal for Jordan'

    Michael B. Jordan is in talks to star in Sony’s “Journal for Jordan,” a drama that will be directed by Denzel Washington. The movie, penned by Oscar-nominated screenwriter Virgil Williams, is based on the true story of Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Dana Canedy’s love affair with First Sergeant Charles Monroe King. King kept a journal [...]

  • Sylvester Stallone

    Sylvester Stallone's Superhero Drama 'Samaritan' Lands at MGM

    MGM is developing the superhero drama “Samaritan” with Sylvester Stallone attached to star and produce through his Balboa Productions. The studio has acquired Bragi F. Schut’s script, which centers on a boy learning that a missing superhero, who vanished 20 years earlier after a battle, may still be alive. MGM will develop “Samaritan” with Stallone [...]

  • Kendrick Lamar

    Oscars: Kendrick Lamar and SZA Will Not Perform 'Black Panther' Song (EXCLUSIVE)

    Despite the Academy’s efforts to secure Kendrick Lamar and SZA for a performance of the Oscar-nominated song “All the Stars” from “Black Panther” on the upcoming Oscars telecast, the duo will not be a part of the show, Variety has learned. The reason, according to a source close to the situation, is logistics and timing. [...]

  • Oscars Spa Treatments

    Area Spas Offer Red Carpet Treatments in Time for Oscars

    From a shopping session with a celebrity stylist to a covert airport pickup, these hotels and spas are offering even more curated packages for the ultimate VIP Oscar experience. For the Jetsetter Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills’ Doheny Suite Experience package allows travelers to evade the paparazzi with an underground or curbside [...]

  • Rocketman

    See Taron Egerton Transform Into Elton John in New ‘Rocketman’ Trailer

    A new trailer for “Rocketman,” the Elton John “fantasy musical” in theaters May 31, was released today. As the singer, actor Taron Egerton (“Eddie the Eagle”) performs “Tiny Dancer” and is seen honing his talent at home, rising to fame and grappling with the pitfalls that superstardom can bring. The film also stars Jamie Bell (as John’s [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content