Steve McQueen Sets New Film: A Nonfiction World War II Project — Exclusive

The "Widows" filmmaker will team with his wife, Bianca Stigter, for a documentary based on her book on Amsterdam's WWII history.
Steve McQueen'Widows' film premiere, Chicago, USA - 13 Oct 2018
Steve McQueen
Cindy Barrymore/REX/Shutterstock

Steve McQueen will direct “The Occupied City,” a documentary based on the illustrated history book “Atlas of an Occupied City. Amsterdam 1940-1945,” written by his wife, Dutch writer, historian, and filmmaker Bianca Stigter.

“Atlas of an Occupied City” uncovers traces of the World War II in Amsterdam, guiding the reader through the once-occupied Netherlands capital. The project received €800,000 (about $920,000) in funding from the Netherlands Film Fund, which describes the project as,”Living in Amsterdam is like living with spirits. It looks like there are two parallel worlds. The past is always present.”

Stigter was an associate producer on McQueen’s “Widows” and “12 Years a Slave.” “The Occupied City” will mark McQueen’s initial foray into non-fiction feature filmmaking, although it’s terrain he traversed in his early short film work. Dutch production house Family Affair Films will produce the film along with UK-based Lammas Park.

“Widows” marked McQueen’s first feature film in five years after 2013’s Oscar-winning “12 Years a Slave.” During that period, the filmmaker shot a pilot for HBO titled “Codes of Conduct,” which was to follow a young black man with a mysterious past as he makes his way into New York’s high society. HBO eventually shelved the project.

He is also prepping a six-part drama for the BBC, which will tell stories of the West Indian experience in the UK from 1968 to the early ’80s.

Stigter is the author of several books and writes for NRC Handelsblad, a daily evening newspaper published in the Netherlands. She directed “Three Minutes Thirteen Minutes Thirty Minutes” (2015), a documentary that provided a glimpse of pre-war 1938 life in the predominantly Jewish town of Nasielsk, Poland.

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