Steve McQueen is one of the great living British directors. The Academy Award winner can now add another accolade to his impressive list of achievements: knighthood. Princess Anne knighted the 12 Years A Slave director earlier today at Windsor Castle.
From Ealing To Windsor
The son of immigrants, McQueen was born in London and raised in Ealing. A fan of Tottenham Hotspur, he earned a BFA at the University of London where he became interested in film. McQueen became a visual artist, winning the Turner Prize in 1999 for a video based on the work of Buster Keaton. Soon thereafter, he became an official war artist and covered Iraq.
Upon his return, McQueen focused on feature films. His first, Hunger, starred Michael Fassbender as Bobby Sands during the 1981 Irish hunger strike. The film won McQueen the first-time director prize at the Cannes Film Festival, making him the first British director to win the award. He picked up honors all over the world for Hunger and he was only getting started.
Onto Even Bigger Things
Fassbender and McQueen collaborated on his next film Shame. The gritty drama about sex addiction was a critical darling. 2013 saw McQueen release what could prove to be his magnum opus. 12 Years A Slave is a heart-wrenching film about a free Black man getting kidnapped into slavery. It earned Best Picture at the Academy Awards, cementing its cinematic immortality.
Back To England
After the success of 12 Years A Slave, McQueen began to focus more on England. 2018’s Widows, an underrated heist thriller, was based on a British television series. His Small Axe anthology series was designed to give voice to folks in London who don’t usually get a voice in media. Two of the series’ films, Mangrove and Lovers Rock, were very nearly up for the Cannes Film Festival in the same year. Were it not for COVID-19, McQueen would have been the first filmmaker to ever accomplish such a feat.
Sir Steve McQueen
McQueen was formally knighted by Princess Anne in a ceremony at the historic Windsor Castle. His impressive resume and status as one of Britain’s foremost Black filmmakers in history make him an easy choice.
At the ceremony, McQueen discussed his upcoming film Blitz with Anne. McQueen says, “It’s about London, starting in 1940, this is what we’re attempting to do and we’ll see how it pans out.” He also says he was “very happy” for his mother on the day. Good for him!