During the press rounds for his remarkable directorial debut “Hunger,” director Steve McQueen had noted that his own ambitions in the film industry centered around the year 1981, where three major events shaped his childhood: Bobby Sands, an IRA member led the hunger strike explored in “Hunger”; his favourite football team Tottenham Hotspur won the F.A. Cup; and the Brixton riots, spurred by rising tensions between police and the African-Caribbean community, resulted in 82 arrests, 280 injuries to police, 45 injuries to members of the public and extensive damage to buildings and cars.
Revisiting his earlier sentiments recently with The Guardian, McQueen reveals that, while he’s “a bit over” plans to make a feature about his beloved Tottenham, he “still hopes to do something about the [Brixton] riots with the BBC.”
Considering the riots which haunted the U.K. last year, there’s probably never been a more appropriate time for McQueen to tackle the subject. “Sadly, I wasn’t here for the riots over the summer, but they even came to my mother’s street, in Ealing for God’s sake,” McQueen added. “I partly live in Amsterdam now, but I’m still a Londoner and something’s wrong. The chief of police admits to sweeteners from News Corp and gets a slap on the wrist. A kid steals £40 trainers and gets 10 months; it’s blatantly not fair. The rapper Smiley Culture stabbed himself? C’mon, please. There are too many unanswered questions. It’s not gangs – it’s individuals who are fed up and want to be in a better position, but they don’t know how to say it or change it.”
Sounds like he’ll have plenty to say if any project on the riots comes together and, while it remains to be seen whether McQueen plans to do it as a feature, mini-series, documentary or something else entirely, we’ll just have to sit here and fantasize about a visceral, raw and powerful exploration of modern race relations through the eyes of McQueen.
Next up for the helmer is slavery tale “Twelve Years A Slave,” a true story set in 1853 about Solomon Northup, a free black man tricked into slavery, which already boasts the all-star cast of Chiwetel Ejoifor, a returning Michael Fassbender and Brad Pitt, who is doubling as a producer through his Plan B shingle. Ejiofor was, of course, originally set to star in McQueen’s Fela Kuti biopic — which we presume is still in the works — but will shoot the slavery pic this year first. McQueen co-scripted with John Ridley (“Three Kings“) from Northup’s autobiography.