With award season starting at the other side of the Atlantic there is a name that keeps coming up in the best director nominations and that name is Steve Mcqueen! We should clarify for the 60s and 70s movie lovers that we are not here to break the news of the resurrection of the ‘The King of Cool’ Steve Mcqueen, this is another Mcqueen but he is also very worthy of your attention!
This Mcqueen hails from the UK and started his career as a visual artist after attending Goldsmith College in London and dropping out from Tisch School in New York since he thought their approach to filmmaking was stifling and not experimental enough. This statement about filmmaking is evidenced by his short art films as well as his features. The art world took notice of him in 1993 with his film “Bear”, showing two naked men –one of them being the director himself- wrestling and blurring the lines between flirtation and aggression. The film was considered a political statement on race, violence and male eroticism. He won his first award, the Turner prize, in 1999 for “Deadpan” a film inspired by a Buster Keaton stunt, showing a building collapsing around the artist as he stands unscathed where a window used to be. His first feature, “Hunger” (2008) deals with the 1981 Irish hunger strike, was received with great critical acclaim. After its premier at the Cannes Film Festival and the Camera d’Or award for Mcqueen, he became the new-auteur-to-watch. A first time director stated that he felt very much at ease on the film set since the community feeling of making a film and especially the commitment of the crew and the actors to make this story in Northern Ireland made the artist feel very much at ease in his directorial debut. The film marks his first collaboration with Michael Fassbender which will continue up to his latest film.
His second feature came three years later in 2011, “Shame”, starring again Michael Fassbender as a sex addict who tries to escape his addiction and the demons of his past when his estranged sister comes to visit him. His upcoming film, “12 Years a Slave”, based on a memoir written by Solomon Northup a free man who was tricked into being sold to slave owners and passed 12 years as a slave before being able to reclaim his freedom. The film is set to be in the center of every award show to come, the director was awarded with the Hollywood Breakout Director Award at the Hollywood awards. During his acceptance speech he showed his surprise by the title of the award since maybe in his mind as well as the mind of moviegoers he has already ‘broken out’. But as they say, better late than never. Hollywood seems to catch up with the idea that Mcqueen is one of the most talented new filmmakers that always stays true to his vision as the artists that have influenced him, Andy Warhol, Buster Keaton and the Nouvelle Vague Directors.
The multitalented artist, when asked what the difference between art and cinema is, says it is like literature and poetry you use the same tools to produce a different result.
Whatever your background might be, everybody is welcome to submit their work at ÉCU. Experimental, music videos, these are some of the categories that may be the starting point of a feature career as demonstrated by the exceptional Mister Mcqueen. So leave your insecurities and doubts behind and submit your weird films here! There is something for everyone, and that is certainly true for ÉCU Film Festival.