Griffith Film Theater, Duke Campus—Steve McQueen (the British video artist, not the American tough-guy movie star from the '60s) came to film directing via an unorthodox route: He went to art school and won fame in the '90s for his video installations in galleries, eventually earning the prestigious Turner Prize in 1999. Art star to film director is not unprecedented—witness Matthew Barney and Julian Schnabel—but it's an interesting switch: You have to wrestle with narrative and appeal to roomfuls of people who aren't innately convinced they're witnessing something important.
To tell from the critical reception, McQueen succeeded spectacularly with his first feature, Hunger, winning the Caméra d'Or award for first-time directors at the 2008 Cannes. The film depicts six weeks in the life of Bobby Sands as he led the famous 1981 IRA hunger strike at the Maze prison in Northern Ireland. McQueen manages to dramatize an act of political extremism in a fairly nonpolitical fashion, focusing on the physical and psychological effects of the strike. That itself is a political decision, and prominent figures from both sides of the "Troubles," such as former IRA press secretary Richard O'Rawe and Unionist Member of Parliament Jeffrey Donaldson, have objected to McQueen's choice of subject matter.
Look for a career-making performance by Michael Fassbender, who won numerous best actor awards for his portrayal of Sands. Fassbender went on a crash diet and lost 30 pounds for the film, getting down to 130 pounds on his 6-foot frame. "It was the only way we could do it and make it convincing," he said. The free screening starts at 7 p.m., followed by a panel discussion with Duke professors Jody McAuliffe, Fred Moten and Richard Powell. See fvd.aas.duke.edu/screensociety. —Marc Maximov