Steve McQueen (director)

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Steve McQueen
Steve McQueen TIFF 2013.jpg
McQueen at the premiere of 12 Years a Slave at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival
BornSteven Rodney McQueen
(1969-10-09) 9 October 1969 (age 44)
London, England
ResidenceAmsterdam, Netherlands, London, England
CitizenshipBritish
Dutch[citation needed]
EducationB.A. in Fine art
Alma materHammersmith and West London College,
Goldsmiths College,
Tisch School
OccupationArtist, film director, screenwriter
Years active1993–present
StyleNeo-noir, Experimental, Social realism
Partner(s)Bianca Stigter[1]
ChildrenAlex and Dexter
 
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Steve McQueen
Steve McQueen TIFF 2013.jpg
McQueen at the premiere of 12 Years a Slave at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival
BornSteven Rodney McQueen
(1969-10-09) 9 October 1969 (age 44)
London, England
ResidenceAmsterdam, Netherlands, London, England
CitizenshipBritish
Dutch[citation needed]
EducationB.A. in Fine art
Alma materHammersmith and West London College,
Goldsmiths College,
Tisch School
OccupationArtist, film director, screenwriter
Years active1993–present
StyleNeo-noir, Experimental, Social realism
Partner(s)Bianca Stigter[1]
ChildrenAlex and Dexter

Steven Rodney "Steve" McQueen CBE (born 9 October 1969)[4] is a British-born film director, screenwriter, and video artist. He is a winner of the Caméra d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival, a Turner Prize and a BAFTA.

Early years[edit]

McQueen was born in London and is of Grenadian descent. McQueen grew up in West London and went to Drayton Manor High School.[5][6] He was a keen football player, turning out for the St. Georges Colts football team. He did an A level art at Hammersmith and West London College, then studied art and design at Chelsea College of Art and Design and then fine art at Goldsmiths College, University of London, where he first became interested in film. He left Goldsmiths in 1993 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".[7]

Selected Short films[edit]

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 rather sensitive issues on race, androeroticism 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 sixteen-millimetre film.[8]

Five Easy Pieces (1995) is a short film by McQueen. It follows a woman across a tight-rope; himself stating the idea that a tight-rope walker is "the perfect image of a combination of vulnerability and strength."[9]

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 as 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.[2][9]

Exodus (1997) is a sixty-five-second colour video which takes the title of a record by Bob Marley as its starting point. It records a found event, two black men carrying potted palms, the greenery waving precariously above their heads, whom McQueen followed down a London street. Then they get on a bus and leave.[2]

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.

Career[edit]

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.[10] 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 which might be taken to be flirtatious or threatening.[11] 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.[12][13]

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 which commemorated the deaths of British soldiers who died in the Iraq War by presenting their portraits as a sheet of stamps.[14]

His 2007 short film Gravesend depicted the process of Coltan refinement and production. It premiered at The Renaissance Society in the United States.[15]

His 2008 feature film Hunger, about the 1981 Irish hunger strike, premiered at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival.[16] McQueen received the Caméra d'Or (first-time director) Award at Cannes, the first British director to win the award.[17] 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".[18] 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.[19] 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.[20]

McQueen represented Britain at the 2009 Venice Biennale.[21]

In 2009, it was announced that McQueen has been tapped to direct Fela, a biopic about the Nigerian musician and activist Fela Kuti.[22][23] 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) arrives unannounced and he struggles to deal with it.

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. McQueen is also developing a drama for HBO, which he has cowritten with Matthew Michael Carnahan and intends to direct.[24]

Personal life[edit]

Since 1997, McQueen has made his home in Amsterdam, with his long-time partner, the cultural critic Bianca Stigter, and their daughter Alex and son Dexter. Steve McQueen is represented by Thomas Dane Gallery, London, and by Marian Goodman Gallery, New York and Paris. In addition to Amsterdam, he also lives and works in London.

Already an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE), he was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2011 New Year Honours for services to the visual arts.[25][26]


Filmography[edit]

Feature films[edit]

YearFilmCredited asDistributionWorldwide Gross
DirectorProducerWriterOther
2008HungerYesYesIcon Productions$2,724,474
2011ShameYesYesMomentum Pictures Fox Searchlight$17,693,675
201312 Years a SlaveYesYesSummit Entertainment (Intl) / Fox Searchlight (USA)$17,421,312

Short films[edit]

YearFilmCredited as
DirectorProducerWriter
1993BearYesYesYes
1995Five Easy PiecesYesYesYes
1996Just Above My HeadYesYesYes
1996StageYesYesYes
1997ExodusYesYesYes
2009GiardiniYesYesYes
2009StaticYesYesYes

References[edit]

  1. ^ KINO, CAROL. "Intense Seeker of Powerful Elegance". The New York Times. Retrieved 25 September 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c "Steve McQueen". Fundaciotapies.org. Retrieved 2013-08-01. 
  3. ^ "Steve McQueen". Newmedia-art.info. Retrieved 2013-08-01. 
  4. ^ British Film Institute (1969-10-09). "Steve McQueen | BFI | British Film Institute". Explore.bfi.org.uk. Retrieved 2013-08-01. 
  5. ^ Venice Biennale. "Venice Biennale: Steve McQueen interview". Telegraph. Retrieved 2013-08-01. 
  6. ^ "Ealing's Local Web site". Ealingtoday.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-08-01. 
  7. ^ "Steve McQueen: Profile". BBC News. 1 December 1999. Retrieved 1 April 2010. 
  8. ^ "'Bear', Steve McQueen". Tate. Retrieved 2013-08-01. 
  9. ^ a b http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0268/is_n3_v36/ai_20381888/
  10. ^ Arifa Akbar. "The British film industry has lost its edge, says BFI boss". The Independent, Friday, 2 April 2010.
  11. ^ David Frankel "Steve McQueen – Museum of Modern Art, New York, New York". ArtForum. FindArticles.com. 25 July 2010. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0268/is_n3_v36/ai_20381888/
  12. ^ "Media Art Net | McQueen, Steve: Deadpan". Medienkunstnetz.de. Retrieved 2013-08-01. 
  13. ^ Andrew Gellatly. Frieze Magazine. Issue 46 (May 1999).
  14. ^ Searle, Adrian (21 March 2007). "Last Post". London: Guardian.co.uk. Retrieved 2010-11-21. 
  15. ^ The Renaissance Society
  16. ^ Thorpe, Vanessa (12 May 2008). "Bobby Sands screens at Cannes". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 05-11 2008. 
  17. ^ Winners at the 61st Cannes Film Festival – Yahoo! News
  18. ^ Sydney Film Festival: Official Competition winner
  19. ^ "Family dramas, IRA prisoner film win big at TIFF". CBC News. 13 September 2008. 
  20. ^ "Standard success for Sands movie". BBC News. 1 February 2009. Retrieved 1 April 2010. 
  21. ^ Charlotte Higgins, McQueen will represent Britain at Venice Biennale, The Guardian, 25 June 2008.
  22. ^ Michael Fleming and Ali Jaafar, Focus to film 'Fela' feature, Variety, 7 December 2009.
  23. ^ Ben Child, Steve McQueen to Direct Fela Kuti Biopic, The Guardian, 8 December 2009.
  24. ^ Andreeva, Nellie; Mike Fleming, Jr. (October 29, 2013). "‘12 Years A Slave’ Director Steve McQueen Sets Provocative Drama Project At HBO". Deadline.com. Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved October 29, 2013. 
  25. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 59647. p. 8. 31 December 2010.
  26. ^ New Year Honours for Lennox, Suchet, Hancock and Webb

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]