Steve McQueen, the British director who took on America’s shameful past in “12 Years a Slave,” has been named Director of the Year by the Palm Springs International Film Festival, PSIFF organizers announced on Thursday.
The award will be presented on Jan. 4 at the festival’s annual Awards Gala, a black-tie event used by PSIFF as a fundraiser and by studios as a way to showcase awards contenders just days before Oscar nominating ballots are due.
“12 Years a Slave” is McQueen’s third feature, after “Hunger” and “Shame.” The former video artist has prompted widespread discussion and shot to the forefront of the Oscar race with his brutal, unflinching chronicle of a free black man who was abducted and sold into slavery in the pre-Civil War South.
“Sometimes an artwork can be an object that allows people to have the conversation, and that’s as much as you can ask,” McQueen said after showing “12 Years a Slave” at TheWrap Screening Series in November.
Previous recipients of the Director of the Year Award include Ang Lee, Anthony Minghella, Alexander Payne, Sean Penn, Jason Reitman and David O. Russell.
Last year’s award went to Robert Zemeckis for “Flight.” Zemeckis did not receive an Oscar nomination.
The Awards Gala will take place at the Palm Springs Convention Center and will be hosted by Mary Hart.