Steve McQueen Receives Highest Honor from British Film Institute

His trophy room must be getting cramped.

The British Film Institute (BFI) has today announced that Turner Prize-winning video artist and Oscar-winning producer, director, and screenwriter Steve McQueen will be presented with the BFI Fellowship at the annual Awards Ceremony of the BFI London Film Festival on Saturday, 15 October.

Bestowed annually by the BFI Board of governors, the BFI Fellowship is the prestigious organization’s highest accolade and has been recognizing luminaries in film since 1983.

The Fellowship is being awarded to McQueen for his outstanding contribution to film culture, evinced in his artwork as well as his three multi-award-winning features, Hunger (2008), Shame (2011) and 12 Years a Slave (2013).

The honor will add to McQueen’s growing list of achievements that include being named Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2002, and Commander of the same (CBE) in 2011.

Outside of his critically acclaimed feature films, McQueen is also known for taking the Turner Prize in 1999, and has exhibited at institutions around the world including MoMA, the Musée d’Art Moderne in Paris, as well as in several Venice Biennales, representing Britain in 2009.

In a statement to the press, Josh Berger, the Chair of the BFI, explained the motivation behind the decision to celebrate McQueen, saying “As winner of both the Turner Prize and an Academy Award®, Steve is pre-eminent in the world of film and the moving image.”

“He is one of the most influential and important British artists of the past 25 years and 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,” he added. “We are thrilled that Steve is to become a BFI Fellow.”

McQueen is in good company with this latest honor. With Orson Welles as one of the inaugural fellows in 1983, the accolade has since been awarded to 82 luminaries, including Cate Blanchett, Laurence Olivier, Maggie Smith, Stephen Frears, Tim Burton and Helena Bonham Carter, and the late Sir Christopher Lee.

McQueen expressed his thanks for being selected for the honor in a statement, commenting, “I first walked into the BFI library and cinema 28 years ago. To think that I will now be a Fellow and honorary member, with such a distinguished list of people, is mindblowing. I’m humbly honored.”

The Awards Ceremony will take place on Saturday, 15 October, at Banqueting House.

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