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Hunger: Steve McQueen interview

Hunger: Steve McQueen interview

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Steve McQueen talks to BBC Film Network about how his arts background informs his filmmaking.

McQueen talks to BBC Film Network about how his arts background informs his filmmaking. Hunger received its UK premiere as part of the Times BFI 52nd London Film Festival.

Since winning the Turner Prize in 1999, Steve McQueen has cemented his reputation as one of Britain's foremost artists. He is a sculptor and, more recently, the designer of a series of stamps that replaced the profile of The Queen with the faces of British soldiers killed in Iraq. However, most of his work has taken the form of video installations, the earliest of which are in black-and-white with no sound. In 1997, he more clearly demonstrated an appreciation for the silent era of cinema by restaging an iconic Buster Keaton stunt in Deadpan, where a building falls down around his ears. Later installations used sound and colour.

Liam McMahon listens to a homemade radio in the notorious Maze prison.

Liam McMahon listens to a homemade radio in the notorious Maze prison.

McQueen's latest composition Hunger announces his arrival as a bona fide feature filmmaker. That said, this true-life story which chronicles the hunger strike of IRA prisoner Bobby Sands in 1981, is anything but conventional. The result is an impressionistic portrayal of life in the Maze prison, and is no less powerful for the director's clinical approach to the grisly details. Not only has the film earned McQueen acceptance among the international film community, he has also bagged prestigious awards including the Camera d'Or for best first feature film at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival and the equivalent at the Toronto International Film Festival.

McQueen talks to BBC Film Network about simultaneously learning how to write (co-scripting with Enda Walsh) and direct whilst also subverting the traditions of storytelling; The most obvious example is a 22-minute dialogue scene, shot for the most part in a single static frame amid a series of mostly wordless vignettes. He also reflects on the new experience of working with a cast and crew, and why a big imagination is more important than a big budget.

Hunger is released in the UK on 31st October 2008

Words: Stella Papamichael, Video: Daniel Lucas Published 21 October 08


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1 comments posted.

  • Dec 16, 2009


    I only caught the last 20 minutes of the film last night but what I saw really captured the grim mood of those troubled times ( I grew up in Northern Ireland). Respect to Steve Mc Queen for making such a brave and emotive film about such a sensitive subject, I just need to find somewhere I can buy a dvd to see the rest of it.

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