Steve McQueen Saddened by Ongoing Racial Tensions

Steve McQueen, whose film 12 Years A Slave won the Academy Award for Best Film this year, has expressed his sadness at the current racial tensions in the US, fuelled by two grand juries’ consecutive decisions not indict the white police officers responsible for the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, both unarmed black men, BBC reports.

“I wish I could say I was surprised by this”, McQueen said from Latvia, where he picked up the European Achievement prize for World Cinema at the European Film Awards last Saturday. “It’s just very sad that it’s continuing and there’s no end to it,” he lamented.

McQueen was also reportedly upset by the leaked email exchange between Sony chairman Amy Pascal and the film producer Scott Rudin, in which they speculated as to whether President Obama might have enjoyed films starring black actors and addressing racial themes, such as McQueen’s 12 Years A Slave and Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained.

McQueen, who began his career as a visual artist and won the Turner Prize in 1999, is currently developing a biopic film about Paul Robeson, a US entertainer and civil rights campaigner.

The London-born director has also recently finished the pilot for a HBO series called Codes of Conduct, starring Helena Bonham Carter and Devon Terrell, which tells the story of a young black man who enters New York’s high society. It has also been confirmed that he will direct a BBC drama series about the lives of black Britons, from 1968 to today.

But despite his profound interest in and commitment to questions of race, the director told BBC: “When we talk about ‘these kinds of issues’, there are no issues and I’m not a spokesman. I am just a filmmaker and an artist.”

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