STEVE McQUEEN IN AMSTERDAM: SLAVERY IN AMERICA

STEVE McQUEEN IN AMSTERDAM: SLAVERY IN AMERICA

Steve McQueen’s most recent work of art was a blue vision in Amsterdam’s largest public park, the Vondelpark.  For two weeks, from March 7–25, all 275 streetlamps that usually use a warm white light were replaced with a subdued blue toned light.  McQueen’s objective with “Blues Before Sunrise” was to stimulate the senses via an aspect of cinema.

Steve McQueen’s next film “Twelve Years a Slave,” set against the backdrop of the bluest era in American history, will begin appearing at International film festivals this fall.  Starring Chiwetel Ejoifor, it’s the true story of a man living in New York during the mid-1800s who is kidnapped and sold into slavery in the south.  Also starring Michael Fassbender, 
Quvenzhané Wallis and Brad Pitt, Pitt is a producer on the project.  Ejiofor and McQueen have been working together on a Fela Kuti biopic according to indiewire.com, and Fassbender was the lead in McQueen’s releases “Hunger” and “Shame.”  “Shame” is the story of a New York City bachelor whose sex driven life is suddenly interrupted when his sister visits indefinitely.  McQueen’s first film “Hunger,” was also based on a true story, depicting the life of Irish Republican Army member Bobby Sands, who led the inmates of a Northern Irish prison in a hunger strike.

HungerTwelve Years Al SaveShame

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The controversial nature of McQueen’s new movie is how he came to my attention.  The only “Steve McQueen” I ever knew was married to Ali MacGraw back in the day.  Born Steven Rodney McQueen, the visual artist was awarded the CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) in the 2011 Queen’s New Years Honours List for his services to Visual Arts.  He was awarded the OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) in the 2002 Queen’s Birthday Honours List for his services to the Arts.  He is a winner of the Caméra d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival; won the Turner Prize in 1999; has a BAFTA Award; and made the Official War Artist for Iraq in association with the Imperial War Museum in 2003.  A man steeped in culture, who has been recognized for his artistic contributions, makes him FUNKY.  I believe we can expect a great deal more from Steve McQueen.

McQueen really wants to do a film about the Brixton riots of 1981 in the U.K. that were spurred by rising tensions between police and the African-Caribbean community.  The unfortunate events resulted in 82 arrests, 280 injuries to police, 45 injuries to members of the public, and extensive damage to buildings and cars.  He hopes to do the film with the support of the BBC, considering the riots that took place in the U.K. as recent as 2011.  When doing press in London in 2012, he told The Guardian: “Sadly, I wasn’t here for the riots over the summer, but they even came to my mother’s street, in Ealing for God’s sake.”  He continued, “I partly live in Amsterdam now, but I’m still a Londoner and something’s wrong.”  It’s this dynamic, these defining aspects of two different cultures, that enables him to do a story about slavery in America, as the poison of racial disharmony is International.

McQueen and Fassbender

The following Steve McQueen quote was taken from imdb.com:  “I could never make American movies – they like happy endings. I made “Shame” in America, but it’s not a Hollywood movie. I’m about challenging people. Like, properly challenging them and their assumptions. Audiences make their minds up about people they see on screen, just like they do in real life. That’s what fascinates me in film. You see a character and have to think: is this person different to what I assumed he was when I first saw him? … I’m certainly not who people think I am. I always do whatever I want to do and my films are personal to me. “Hunger” was about my youth, the loss of innocence when I realized what my country was doing, what was going on. Brandon in “Shame” is my response to being lost – I’ve not been there in the sense of sexual addiction, but I’ve been lost.”

Steve McQueen/ B&W

McQueen’s exhibit “Blues Before Sunrise” was presented by the Stedelijk Museum, for more go to: http://www.stedelijk.nl/en/news-items/steve-mcqueen-blues-before-sunrise#sthash.c4jdpzxq.dpuf

for the love of FUNKY innovative filmmaking and all that is blue

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