The New York Film Critics Circle was forced into damage control mode Tuesday after one of its members heckled "12 Years A Slave" director Steve McQueen at an awards dinner Monday night.
Variety reported that McQueen had just been presented with the society's Best Director award when Armond White, the editor of the weekly City Arts paper, called out from his table at the back of the room.
"You’re an embarrassing doorman and garbage man," White reportedly yelled. "(Expletive) you. Kiss my ass."
White had panned McQueen's film in a review published this past October calling it "the most unpleasant American movie since ... 'The Exorcist'" and saying it belonged 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."
"12 Years A Slave," based on the autobiography of Solomon Northrup, a free-born black man captured and sold into slavery in the 19th century, is widely thought to be a sure nominee for Best Picture at this year's Academy Awards, and the British McQueen a nominee for Best Director. The film and director have already won awards from critics' societies in Boston, Chicago, Kansas City, Las Vegas, and St. Louis.
On Tuesday, Variety reported that NYFCC chairman Josh Rothkopf had sent out an e-mail to members saying that the evening had been "ruined."
"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," Rothkopf added. "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."