British filmmaker Steve McQueen sparked intense public discourse last year after the enormous success of his celebrated anthology Small Axe which documented the plight of immigrants from the West Indies living in London during the latter half of the 20th century. The first Black filmmaker to win the Oscar for Best Picture, McQueen has already entered the history books for films like 12 Years a Slave.
In an interview, McQueen said: “Look around you at what’s happening here – people getting stabbed every day of the month in London and no one seems to give a shit. If they did give a shit, it wouldn’t happen. It happens because it’s seen to be of no great importance. If it was, things would be done against it to prevent it happening.”
Adding, “What I do as an artist is, I think, to do with my own life experience,” he says at one point. “I came of age in a school which was a microcosm of the world around me. One day, you’re together as a group, the next, you are split up by people who think certain people are better than you. It was kind of interesting to observe that.”
According to the latest reports, McQueen is already working on a three-part documentary series for the BBC. Titled Uprising, the series will explore events that took place in the UK in 1981 which intensified racial tensions and defined race relations in the country for years to come. The new documentaries are reported to be scheduled for a September release on streaming platforms like Amazon Prime.
While discussing his own artistic journey, McQueen said: “I had every obstacle thrown up against me on the way up. And a big part of the reason I am sitting here is because of the people who went before me and made sacrifices. They helped clear the path for me because they made some noise and pushed back against racism – in music, in film, in writing, in debates, in protests. I am sitting here because of them. That’s just a fact.”