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NYFF Spotlight: Shame

Shame

Film: Shame
Director: Steve McQueen
Program: Main Slate
Showtimes: Oct. 7, Oct. 9

Why you should see it:
Shame is the much-anticipated second feature by British artist-turned-filmmaker Steve McQueen whose first film, Hunger, established him as a director to take seriously. It stars Michael Fassbender—deeply expressive even with little dialogue—as a sex-addicted New Yorker whose unstable sister, played by Carey Mulligan, moves in with him. The film captures the isolation of addiction, the desire for human connection, and the testing of boundaries between siblings. Shot on location in Manhattan, McQueen uses his now signature long tracking shots to present a convincing portrait of the lonely and dark corners of the city. Shame has gotten attention for scenes of explicit sex, but it is the actors’ complex and anguished performances outside of the bedroom that stay with you. 

Track record:
Shame has played at the Telluride, Venice, and Toronto Film Festivals.

About the director:
Steve McQueen is a London-born artist and filmmaker. He was awarded the Turner Prize in 1999. Much of his artwork is projections of short black-and-white silent films, often starring himself. He made his first feature film, Hunger, in 2008. Michael Fassbender, in his breakout role, plays Bobby Sands, leader of the 1981 hunger strike in Ireland. It premiered at Cannes, where it won the Camera d’Or. It features the longest unbroken shot in a feature film (17 minutes).

What the critics are saying:
"Riveting, spectacular, passionate cinema." —Andrew O'Hehir, Salon

“Fluid, rigorous, serious cinema—the best kind of adult movie." —Xan Brooks, the Guardian

"A powerful, beautifully acted sophomore film." —Oliver Lyttelton, The Playlist (indieWIRE)

What the NYFF programmers say:
Shame is the new film by Steve McQueen, who we had in the festival a few years ago with Hunger. McQueen is a major contemporary visual artist and this is his second feature film. As in Hunger, it stars Michael Fassbinder, kind of the star of this year’s festival. Fassbender plays a New Yorker who is a very, very accomplished professional but is also a sex addict and basically spends all the free time he can either servicing himself or having himself serviced by others. His world begins to come apart when his sister, played by Carey Mulligan, comes to live with him. In a way her insecurities and neuroses begin to make his own come out as well. It’s a very, very moving performance by Fassbinder, brilliantly filmed once again by Steve McQueen and it shows that Hunger wasn’t a fluke at all. This is a filmmaker for us to watch.” —Richard Peña, Program Director

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