Steve McQueen (director)
Steve McQueen holding the Best Picture Oscar statuette for 12 Years a Slave, March 2014
|Born||Steven Rodney McQueen
9 October 1969
|Residence||London, England, Amsterdam, Netherlands|
|Education||BA in Fine art|
|Alma mater||Hammersmith and West London College,
Goldsmiths, University of London
|Occupation||Artist, film director, screenwriter|
|Style||Neo-noir, Experimental, Social realism|
|Awards||List of awards|
Steven Rodney "Steve" McQueen CBE (born 9 October 1969) is a British film director, producer, screenwriter, and video artist. For his 2013 film, 12 Years a Slave, he won an Academy Award, BAFTA Award for Best Film and Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Drama, as a producer, and he also received the award for best director from the New York Film Critics Circle. McQueen is the first black filmmaker to win an Academy Award for Best Picture. McQueen is known for his collaborations with actor Michael Fassbender, who has starred in all three of McQueen's feature films as of 2013.
For his artwork, McQueen has received the Turner Prize, the highest award given to a British visual artist, and in 2006 produced Queen and Country, commemorating the deaths of British soldiers in Iraq by presenting their portraits as a sheet of stamps. For services to the visual arts, he was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2011.
McQueen was born in London and is of Grenadian descent. He grew up in West London and went to Drayton Manor High School. In a 2014 interview, McQueen stated that he had a very bad experience in school, where he had been placed into a class for students believed best suited "for manual labour, more plumbers and builders, stuff like that." Later, the new head of the school would admit that there had been "institutional" racism at the time. McQueen added that he was dyslexic and had to wear an eyepatch due to a lazy eye, and reflected this may be why he was "put to one side very quickly".
He was a keen football player, turning out for the St. Georges Colts football team. He took A level art at Hammersmith and West London College, then studied art and design at Chelsea College of Arts and then fine art at Goldsmiths College, University of London, where he first became interested in film. He left Goldsmiths and studied briefly at New York University's Tisch School in the United States. He found the approach there too stifling and insufficiently experimental, complaining that "they wouldn't let you throw the camera up in the air". His artistic influences include Andy Warhol, Sergei Eisenstein, Dziga Vertov, Jean Vigo, Buster Keaton, Carl Theodor Dreyer, Robert Bresson, and Billy Wilder.
Selected short films
Bear (1993) was McQueen's first major film, presented at the Royal College of Art in London. Although not an overtly political piece, for many it raised questions about race, sexual attraction to men, and violence. It shows a wrestling match between two men who alternate ambiguous relations and gestures of aggression and erotic attraction. The film's protagonists, one of them McQueen, are both black, but issues of race, he has said, do not take priority in his work. Like all McQueen's early films, Bear is black-and-white, and was shot on 16-millimetre film.
Five Easy Pieces (1995) is a short film by McQueen. It follows a woman across a tight-rope; McQueen has stated that he finds a tight-rope walker to be "the perfect image of a combination of vulnerability and strength."
Just Above My Head (1996) is a short film which shares close ties with McQueen's preceding film with the key theme of walking. A man – played by McQueen – is shot in a way so as to crop out his body, but his head appears small at the bottom of the image, rising and falling with his step and coming in and out of frame according to the movement of the camera. As stated by David Frankel, the "simultaneous fragility and persistence" is seemingly meant as a metaphor for black life in England as elsewhere.
Exodus (1997) is a 65-second colour video that takes the title of a record by Bob Marley as its starting point. It records a found event, two black men carrying potted palms whom McQueen followed down a London street, the greenery waving precariously above their heads. Then they get on a bus and leave.
Western Deep (2002), commissioned for documenta 11, constitutes a powerful exploration of the sensory experience of the TauTona Gold Mine in South Africa, showing migrant labourers working in dark, claustrophobic environments and the ear-splitting noise of drilling.
McQueen's films as an artist were typically projected onto one or more walls of an enclosed space in an art gallery, and often in black-and-white and minimalistic. He has cited the influence of the nouvelle vague and the films of Andy Warhol. He often appeared in the films himself.
His first major work was Bear (1993), in which two naked men (one of them McQueen) exchange a series of glances that might be taken to be flirtatious or threatening. Deadpan (1997) is a restaging of a Buster Keaton stunt in which a house collapses around McQueen, who is left unscathed because he is standing where there is a missing window.
As well as being in black-and-white, both these films are silent. The first of McQueen's films to use sound was also the first to use multiple images: Drumroll (1998). This was made with three cameras, two mounted to the sides, and one to the front of an oil drum which McQueen rolled through the streets of Manhattan. The resulting films are projected on three walls of an enclosed space. McQueen has also made sculptures such as White Elephant (1998), as well as photographs.
He won the Turner Prize in 1999, although much of the publicity went to Tracey Emin, who was also a nominee. In 2006, he went to Iraq as an official war artist. The following year he presented Queen and Country, a piece that commemorated the deaths of British soldiers who died in the Iraq War by presenting their portraits as a sheet of stamps. His 2007 short film Gravesend depicted the process of Coltan refinement and production. It premiered at The Renaissance Society in the United States.
His 2008 feature film Hunger, about the 1981 Irish hunger strike, premiered at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival. McQueen received the Caméra d'Or (first-time director) Award at Cannes, the first British director to win the award. The film was also awarded the inaugural Sydney Film Festival Prize, for "its controlled clarity of vision, its extraordinary detail and bravery, the dedication of its cast and the power and resonance of its humanity". The film also won the 2008 Diesel Discovery Award at the Toronto International Film Festival. The award is voted on by the press attending the festival. Hunger also won the Los Angeles Film Critics Association award for a New Generation film in 2008 and the best film prize at the London Evening Standard Film Awards in 2009.
McQueen represented Britain at the 2009 Venice Biennale. In 2009, it was announced that McQueen has been tapped to direct Fela, a biopic about the Nigerian musician and activist Fela Kuti. Despite this, McQueen's second major theatrical release came in 2011 with the film Shame. Set in New York City, it stars Michael Fassbender as a sex addict whose life is suddenly turned upside-down when his estranged sister (Carey Mulligan) reappears.
McQueen's most recent film is 12 Years a Slave (2013). Based on the 1853 autobiography of the same name by Solomon Northup, the film tells the story of a free black man who is kidnapped in 1841 and sold into slavery, working on plantations in the state of Louisiana for twelve years before being released. The film won the Academy Award for Best Picture in March 2014, becoming the first Best Picture winner to have a black director or producer.
McQueen is also developing a drama for HBO, which he has cowritten with Matthew Michael Carnahan and intends to direct. McQueen is working on a BBC drama about the lives of black Britons, which follows the lives of a group of friends and their families from 1968 to 2014.
In addition to London, since 1997 McQueen has a home in Amsterdam, with his long-time girlfriend, cultural critic Bianca Stigter, and their two children. Already having been appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2002, he was created Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2011 New Year Honours for services to the visual arts.
|Year||Film||Credited as||Distribution||Box office|
|2013||12 Years a Slave||Yes||Yes||Summit Entertainment
|1995||Five Easy Pieces||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|1996||Just Above My Head||Yes||Yes||Yes|
Awards and nominations
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- The Renaissance Society
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- Winners at the 61st Cannes Film Festival – Yahoo! News
- Sydney Film Festival: Official Competition winner
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- Michael Fleming and Ali Jaafar, "Focus to film 'Fela' feature", Variety, 7 December 2009.
- Ben Child, "Steve McQueen to Direct Fela Kuti Biopic", The Guardian, 8 December 2009.
- Katie Van Syckle, "Brad Pitt: 'It took a Brit' to Ask the Right Question on Slavery", Rolling Stone, 7 September 2013. Retrieved 5 January 2014.
- Andreeva, Nellie; Mike Fleming, Jr. (29 October 2013). "'12 Years A Slave' Director Steve McQueen Sets Provocative Drama Project at HBO". Deadline.com. Retrieved 29 October 2013.
- "Steve McQueen to work on BBC drama". BBC, 10 January 2014.
- "The Queen's Birthday Honours 2002", BBC News, 14 June 2002.
- "New Year Honours unveiled", BBC News, 31 December 2010.
- "Hunger (2008)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 16 July 2014.
- "Shame (2011)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 16 July 2014.
- "Twelve Years A Slave (2013)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 16 July 2014.
- Brockington, Horace. "Logical Anonymity: Lorna Simpson, Steve McQueen, Stan Douglas." International Review of African American Art 15, No. 3 (1998): 20–29.
- Downey, Anthony. "Steve McQueen: Western Deep and Carib's Leap." Wasafiri, No. 37 (Winter 2002): 17–20.
- Demos, TJ. "The Art of Darkness: on Steve McQueen." October, No. 114 (Fall 2005): 61–89.
- Downey, Anthony. "Steve McQueen: 'Once Upon a Time.'" Journal of Visual Culture, Vol. 5, No. 1 (2006), pp. 119–125.
- Demos, TJ. "Giardini: A Fairytale." In Steve McQueen (British Pavilion, Venice Biennale, 2009).
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Steve McQueen.|
- Steve McQueen at the Internet Movie Database
- Steve McQueen at BFI Film & TV Database
- Interview with Steve McQueen, MUBI
- Thomas Dane Gallery: Steve McQueen
- Marian Goodman Gallery: Steve McQueen
- BBC profile
- Queen and Country
- Steve McQueen on re-title.com