Steve McQueen

Active - 1966 - 2021  |   Born - Oct 9, 1969 in London, England  |   Genres - Drama, Visual Arts

Share on

Biography by Nathan Southern

British video artist Steve McQueen (not to be confused with the Hollywood actor of the same name) distinguished himself by working in a laudably diverse number of mediums; though he began with film-related projects, he quickly branched out to include such mediums as sculpture and still photography. He began his formal training by studying at the Chelsea School of Art and at Goldsmith College in London, where he began making student films. Early short-subject works were done almost exclusively in black-and-white, without sound; they included the short Bear (1993) (depicting a brief and unusual encounter between two naked men), the 1997 Deadpan (with a gentleman standing in the middle of a building as it repeatedly falls down around him), and Drumroll (1998), for which McQueen affixed cameras to a barrel and rolled the barrel through Manhattan streets. McQueen shot and released his debut mainstream feature in 2008; entitled Hunger and starring Brian Milligan and Liam McMahon, it dramatizes the last painful months of Bobby Sands, a famous IRA (Irish Republican Army) activist who protested his brutal treatment by guards in Belfast's Maze Prison by undergoing a debilitating hunger strike and ultimately starving himself to death. His next film, the psychological sex drama Shame (2011), starred Michael Fassbender as a successful New York City executive whose debilitating sex addition slowly boils to the surface during an unexpected visit from his sister, a talented young chanteuse. An intense and challenging film, Shame earned the emerging director both a CinemAvvenire Award and a FIPRESCI Prize at the 2011 Venice Film Festival, and a Volpi Cup for star Fassbinder.

Movie Highlights

See Full Filmography


  • Father is from Grenada; mother is from Trinidad.
  • Released his first short film, Bear, in 1993 as part of his final project at Goldsmiths College.
  • Briefly attended New York University, but left when he found the program to be too restricting. 
  • Won the Turner Prize, given to a British visual artist, in 1999.
  • Awarded an OBE (Officer of the British Empire) in 2002, and a CBE (Commander of the British Empire) in 2011.
  • First British director to win the Caméra d'Or (for first-time feature film directors) at the Cannes Film Festival, for his film Hunger (2008).
  • Frequently works with actor Michael Fassbender.