“Black Power,” which originated from an idea McQueen had while filming “Small Axe,” will examine how the Black Power movement came into being in the late 1960s and fought back against police brutality and racism.
The films features rare archive of Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and Stokely Carmichael’s activities in Britain, as well as footage of leading figures in the movement in the U.K., Altheia Jones-LeCointe, Darcus Howe and Roy Sawh. They shed fresh light on the stories of Black youth in the ’60s and ’70s who challenged the British establishment and helped to shape a new political and cultural landscape in the U.K.
BAFTA-nominated George Amponsah (“Enslaved,” “The Hard Stop”) will direct the documentary, which will play on BBC Two and BBC iPlayer.
“Subnormal,” commissioned for BBC One and iPlayer, examines how Black children in the 1960s and 1970s were disproportionately sent to schools for the so-called “educationally subnormal.” It tells the story of how Black parents, teachers and activists banded together to expose the injustice and force the education system to change. It explores the controversial debates on race and intelligence that led to the scandal and the devastating impact it had on the children affected. New talent Lyttanya Shannon directs.
Both documentaries feature first hand interviews with key participants in the events, many of whom are telling their stories for the first time. McQueen is executive producer on both films, alongside James Rogan, Tracey Scoffield and Soleta Rogan.
“Looking at the past is an indication of what we have achieved today,” McQueen said. “These two documentaries show us of how far we still have to travel for liberty and justice.”
Charlotte Moore, BBC chief content officer, said: “These are important stories from our recent history that still resonate today. Steve McQueen has assembled a talented team of creatives to make these two documentaries that shine a light on the experiences of young Black people from the 1960s and 1970s, sharing rare archive and enabling us to hear directly from key individuals, many speaking for the first time.”
“Black Power” (working title) and “Subnormal” were commissioned by Moore and Clare Sillery, head of commissioning, documentaries, history and religion. The commissioning editor is Emma Loach. It is produced by Lammas Park, Rogan Productions and Turbine Studios. Helen Bart serves as senior producer.
BBC Studios will distribute the documentaries internationally.