Critics mortified by 'heckle' to director

HIS WINNINGS: Director Steve McQueen was allegedly sledged at the 2013 New York Film Critics Circle Awards Ceremon.
HIS WINNINGS: Director Steve McQueen was allegedly sledged at the 2013 New York Film Critics Circle Awards Ceremon.

The chair of the New York Film Critics Circle, Joshua Rothkopf, has apologised on behalf of the group to 12 Years a Slave director Steve McQueen after he was allegedly heckled on stage as he accepted his award for best director on Monday night.

In a statement Rothkopf wrote that he was mortified to learn that the heckling had come from one of their own members, and that the organisation was taking disciplinary action.

It's alleged that CityArts editor and film critic Armond White heckled the acclaimed British filmmaker as soon as he took to the stage to accept the award for his retelling of real life story of Solomon Northup, a free African-American who was kidnapped and sold into slavery.

White is accused of shouting expletives from his table at the back of the room, yelling out that McQueen was "an embarrassing doorman and garbage man" and "f--- you. Kiss my ass," according to Hollywood trade Variety.

If they occurred, White's heckles failed to cause any rise from McQueen, who continued through his emotional acceptance speech uninhibited and thanked the critics group for honouring him. Previous recipients include Woody Allen, Clint Eastwood, and Martin Scorsese.

White slammed 12 Years a Slave in his review last October, labeling the film his "Dud of the Week" and saying that the film belongs to the same torture porn genre as Hostel, The Human Centipede and the Saw franchise. He called it "the most unpleasant American movie since William Friedkin's 1973 The Exorcist".

White has since defended himself over the incident, stating that he was "not in a position or vicinity to yell at McQueen. I was talk among my tablemates" and that "gutter bloggers" had lied and misquoted him, in an email responding to an Indiewire inquiry.

White is no stranger to controversy and it's not the first time he's voiced his personal opinion loudly at the Critics Circle either. In 2011, White hosted the event and criticised the majority of winners on stage. And at last year's ceremony, White heckled documentary-maker Michael Moore with expletives as he presented best first film to AIDS documentary How to Survive a Plague.

The rest of the evening went without incident, with accolades awarded to Robert Redford for best actor in All is Lost, Cate Blanchett for best actress in Blue Jasmine, Jared Leto for best supporting actor in Dallas Buyers Club, Jennifer Lawrence for best supporting actress in American Hustle, and American Hustle for best film.

Sydney Morning Herald