Steve McQueen receives apology after heckler labels him 'garbage man'

The written apology said the heckler would receive 'disciplinary action'

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The New York Film Critics Circle has apologised to Steve McQueen, after a critic heckled the director at an awards ceremony on Monday night.

The British director, who was picking up an award for his film 12 Years A Slave, was heckled by critic Armond White, who called McQueen a “garbage man and an embarrassing doorman”.

Joshua Rothkopf, chair of the New York Film Critics Circle, issued a formal apology, stating that disciplinary action was being taken against White.

In a statement issued to McQueen and the film’s distributor Fox Searchlight, Rothkopf said: “It truly was a wonderful night: We felt like we were in the presence of something truly historic, with Mr. Belafonte’s exquisite presentation and Mr McQueen’s elegant words of acceptance.

“Unfortunately, the moment was slightly marred, and I’d like to address that formally.

“On behalf of the New York Film Critics Circle, I apologize sincerely for the crass bit of heckling Mr McQueen encountered. I’m mortified to learn that this was from one of our own members. We are taking disciplinary action.

“I’m especially pained that this occurred in your case. Rarely do we receive thank-you notes, as Steve sent us after the vote. Moreover, his speech showed a deep understanding of the history of our award winners: an honored group in which he stands as an equal.”

White, a critic for New York’s CityArts, is known for disliking popular films and wrote a scathing review of McQueen’s 12 Years A Slave last October.

In his review, he said McQueen had made “the most unpleasant American movie since William Friedkin’s 1973 The Exorcist”.

He wrote: "That's right, 12 Years a Slave belongs to the torture porn genre with Hostel, The Human Centipede and the Saw franchise but it is being sold (and mistaken) as part of the recent spate of movies that pretend 'a conversation about race'. The only conversation this film inspires would contain howls of discomfort."