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Steve McQueen has won the European Film Award for Innovative Storytelling for Small Axe, an anthology of five films set between 1969 and 1982 that explore the experiences of London’s West Indian community.
The films, which were released on Amazon Prime, already picked up an Emmy nomination for Shabier Kirchner, cinematographer on Mangrove, the first film in the series, with Malachi Kirby winning a BAFTA TV best-supporting actor honor for his performance.
In honoring Small Axe with its innovative storytelling prize, the European Film Academy said it wanted to “pay tribute to a ground-breaking pièce d’oeuvre that forces audiences to see where it hasn’t looked before.” The series of films, the academy said, “celebrate the unique culture of the West Indies, which influenced and inspired not just Britain but the whole of Europe… Small Axe shows McQueen’s huge talent as an innovative storyteller while leaving audiences unable to un-see a painful facet of our reality again, but never forgetting to reveal the joy of the every day.”
McQueen is no stranger to the European Film Academy, which honored the British director in 2008 with its European Discovery prize for his debut feature, Hunger. McQueen won the European best director honor for his feature follow-up Shame in 2011. After his third film, 12 Years a Slave, won the Oscar for best picture, the European Film Academy gave McQueen its lifetime achievement prize, the outstanding European achievement in world cinema honor, in 2014.
McQueen will be a guest of honor at the European Film Awards ceremony in Berlin on Dec. 11 to accept the award.
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West Side Story