Steve McQueen, the director of the award-winning film “12 Years A Slave,” was heckled during his acceptance speech at the New York Film Critics Circle Awards by controversial film critic Armond White who was allegedly intoxicated, according to others who attended the ceremony.
McQueen was given the award for Best Director on Monday night, but when he was introduced by the legendary activist and singer Harry Belafonte, White was less than pleased.
White had published a controversial review of the film for CityArts where he called it “torture porn.”
When McQueen began delivering his speech, White reportedly yelled that McQueen was an “embarrassing doorman and garbage man.”
As if that was not enough, he followed the insults with, “F*** you. Kiss my a**.”
McQueen was able to make it through his speech, seemingly unfazed or unaware of the heckling taking place.
While McQueen didn’t seem to notice, others at the ceremony did and took to Twitter to explain what was going on.
Dana Stevens, film critics for Slate Magazine, tweeted that White and his guests seemed to be “drunk and heckling at a lesser level the whole time.”
White responded to the allegations in a statement to Indiewire, where he said that his comments weren’t meant to be a public display.
“I was not in a position or vicinity to yell at McQueen,” he responded. “It was talk among my tablemates.”
He then accused publications such as The Variety and Wire for misquoting him and “distort[ing] the event and NYFCC history.”
The Chairman of the NFYCC is not buying White’s side of the story, however, and promptly sent out a letter to members of the NYFCC to address what happened that evening.
“It amazes me that we have members who are so self-serving, they would sacrifice the decorum of the group … solely to satisfy their egos,” Josh Rothkopf, the NYFCC chairman, wrote. “Never thought I’d write this, but after months of event planning and two years of service as an officer, I’m happy to be done with it.”
Despite White’s disapproval of the film, “12 Years A Slave” has earned several nominations including Best Picture by the Academy Awards.
Critic societies in major cities such as Chicago, Boston, Kansas City and Las Vegas have also given the film and McQueen awards of their own.