The Portland Art Museum and the Northwest Film Center announced the annual Cinema Unbound Awards honorees on Thursday. This year’s honorees include Steve McQueen, Garrett Bradley, Gus Van Sant, Mollye Asher and Alex Bulkley. The awards will be presented on March 4, kicking off the 44th Annual Portland International Film Festival, which will run from March 5 to March 14.
The festival will honor multimedia artists and filmmakers that present boundary-breaking stories. McQueen, the British filmmaker who won an Academy Award for “12 Years a Slave,” recently won best picture at the Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards for “Small Axe.”
“I feel particularly honored to receive this Cinema Unbound Award from Northwest Film Center and Portland Art Museum at a time in my own creative journey when I have gone back to my true source and inspiration with ‘Small Axe’ and felt more unbound creatively than I ever have,” McQueen said. “The work NWFC and PAM do in supporting creatives across different mediums in discovering their own artistic identity is vitally important.”
In an interview with Variety, McQueen said understanding the past allows you to better navigate the present and the future. The anthology series takes place between 1968-1982, which McQueen said was a pivotal time period for Black men and women in the United Kingdom. The movement was kickstarted with Enoch Powell’s culturally dismissive “Rivers of Blood” speech and Frank Critchlow opening the Mangrove Caribbean restaurant in ’68.
“It’s a situation where people are cementing their roots in London,” McQueen said. “At that time there was a very hostile speech made by this politician, Enoch Powell, and that tested people’s will and resistance.”