Oscar-winning filmmaker and artist Steve McQueen honoured

Steve McQueen attending a special screening of Widows, held at the Tate Modern, London.
Steve McQueen attending a special screening of Widows, held at the Tate Modern, London.

British director Steve McQueen is known for his often gruelling films exploring subjects including slavery and sex addiction.

He has been knighted in the Diplomatic Service and Overseas list for services to art and film.

He made history in 2014 when he became the first black filmmaker to win an Academy Award for best picture, one of many accolades during a still relatively young career.

Away from film, he is also the winner of the prestigious Turner Prize for his art work.

McQueen, 50, was born in west London to Grenadian parents.

In a 2014 interview with the Guardian, he said he had a difficult experience throughout school, and at one point was put in a class with students teachers thought would grow up to be “plumbers and builders, stuff like that”.

McQueen said he was dyslexic and had to wear an eye-patch due to a lazy eye, and was “put to one side very quickly”.

However, the strength of his art work carried him to Chelsea College of Arts, before he graduated from the prestigious Goldsmiths, University of London.

His first major film, Bear, arrived in 1993. It was presented at the Royal College of Art in London and features a wrestling match between two black men, one of whom is McQueen.

The artist’s reputation continued to grow and in 1999 he won the Turner Prize for his video based on a Buster Keaton film.

However, much of the attention towards that year’s award went to fellow nominee Tracey Emin, whose exhibit My Bed sparked a media frenzy.

In 2006 McQueen went to Iraq as an official war artist and later presented Queen And Country, an artwork commemorating the deaths of British troops by presenting their portraits as sheets of stamps.

His first feature film, Hunger, premiered in 2008 and featured a gruelling portrayal of IRA member Bobby Sands, who starved himself to death in prison.

It starred Michael Fassbender, a frequent collaborator of McQueen’s, and was praised by critics.

McQueen followed it up with 2011’s Shame, starring Fassbender as a sex addicted New York City executive, and Carey Mulligan as his sister.

Again, it was another critical success, but McQueen’s biggest hit was still to come.

The 2013 biographical drama 12 Years A Slave is a searing portrayal of slavery in the US, starring Chiwetel Ejiofor as a free African American man who is kidnapped and sold into servitude.

The film was a huge hit with critics and at the box office, grossing more than 187 million US dollars, about £144 million, and winning three Oscars, including best picture.

McQueen became the first black filmmaker to win an Academy Award for best picture.

His most recent film is the crime heist drama Widows, starring Viola Davis.

McQueen used to be a Tottenham Hotspur fan, but said he gave up following the team because it affected his life too much.

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