12 Years A Slave director Steve McQueen to become BFI Fellow

All 3 of Steve McQueen's features have been showcased at the London Film Festival. Photo courtesy BFI
All 3 of Steve McQueen’s features have been showcased at the London Film Festival. Photo courtesy BFI

The BFI is to bestow its highest honour, a Fellowship, on the acclaimed British artist and director, Steve McQueen.

McQueen rose to prominence when he won the Turner Prize for modern art in 1999, with a short film that reflected on the work of Buster Keaton. But his subsequent directing career, starting with the IRA prison film Hunger, which screened at the London Film Festival in 2008, before moving on to Shame, about a sex addict and the US Slavery drama 12 Years a Slave, has always earned acclaim and provoked debate. His third film won the Best Picture Oscar, making McQueen the first black film-maker to win the industry’s most sought-after prize.

In a statement, Steve McQueen said “To think that I will now be a Fellow and honorary member, with such a distinguished list of people, is mind-blowing. Iā€™m humbly honoured.”

The new chairman of the BFI, Jish Berger, described McQueen as “One of the most influential and important British artists of the past 25 years,” adding, “His work, both short and long-form, has consistently explored the endurance of humanity – even when it is confronted by inhumane cruelty – with a poetry and visual style that he has made his own.ā€

The formal presentation of the honour will be made at the Awards ceremony at the London Film Festival in October.

Other film luminaries given the same recognition in recent years include Cate Blanchett, Stephen Frears, Tim Burton, Helena Bonham Carter and Sir Christopher Lee.