Cinema Unbound Awards Honorees announced

Steve McQueen, Garrett Bradley, Gus Van Sant, Mollye Asher, and Alex Bulkley to be honored at the 2021 Cinema Unbound Awards presented by the Portland Art Museum & Northwest Film Center

The annual Cinema Unbound Awards 2021 honorees were announced today by the Portland Art Museum & Northwest Film Center. This year’s honorees include Steve McQueen, Garrett Bradley, Gus Van Sant, Mollye Asher, and Alex Bulkley: boundary-breaking multimedia storytellers working at the intersection of art and cinema. The awards will be presented on March 4, 2021, kicking off the 44th Annual Portland International Film Festival running from March 5 to March 14, 2021.

Steve McQueen, the Academy Award-winning British filmmaker and artist whose anthology film series Small Axe recently won Best Picture at the Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards, says he is grateful for the support of artists’ creative exploration.

“I feel particularly honored to receive this Cinema Unbound Award from Northwest Film Center and Portland Art Museum at a time in my own creative journey when I have gone back to my true source and inspiration with Small Axe and felt more unbound creatively than I ever have,” says McQueen. “The work NWFC and PAM do in supporting creatives across different mediums in discovering their own artistic identity is vitally important.”

The event will be available free to the public virtually throughout the US and internationally by registering at To purchase tickets and tables for the in-person drive in awards experience to be held at the NWFC’s Cinema Unbound Drive-In in Portland, Oregon, please visit

“The Cinema Unbound Awards celebrate those who are not content to be contained,” says Amy Dotson, Northwest Film Center Director and Portland Art Museum Curator of Film & New Media.  “We honor these multi-media misfits and nonconformists who expand the notion of what’s possible; these unbound storytellers who defy expectation by refusing to embrace what is for what might be.  They inspire us not just by simply coloring outside the lines, but by redrawing the lines entirely, creating a more interesting, inclusive and inspiring space where cinema and art collide.” 

The convergence of art and cinema celebrated in the Cinema Unbound Awards reflects the deep shared commitment by the Museum and Film Center to reimagine how stories are told and how art is experienced. 

“We celebrate the evolution and expansion of cinematic storytelling,” said Portland Art Museum Director Brian Ferriso. “In this long moment of challenge and change, it is vital to honor artists who are expanding how, by whom, and for whom art is created. They are key to the future of the Portland Art Museum and the world.”

About the Honorees

Steve McQueen
Filmmaker & Artist

Presenter: Charles Burnett, Filmmaker (Killer of Sheep)

Academy Award-winner Steve McQueen is a British artist and filmmaker. His critically acclaimed first feature Hunger (2008), starring Michael Fassbender as an IRA hunger-striker, won the Caméra d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 2008. He re-teamed with Fassbender for his follow up feature Shame (2011), for which Fassbender won the Volpi Cup at the Venice Film Festival for Best Actor; the film ranks as one of the highest-grossing NC-17 rated movies. McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave (2013) dominated awards season, winning, among many others, the Academy Award, Golden Globe, BAFTA, and AAFCA Awards for Best Picture while McQueen received DGA, Academy, BAFTA, and Golden Globe directing nods. His third feature, Widows (2018), was one of the best-reviewed films of the year and starred Viola Davis, Cynthia Erivo, Elizabeth Debicki, and Michelle Rodriguez. His most recent project, Small Axe (2020), is an anthology series comprising five original films about resilience and triumph in London’s West Indian community from the ‘60s to ’80s. Three of the five films in the series, Mangrove, Lovers Rock, and Red, White and Blue opened the 58th New York Film Festival in September.

McQueen is the recipient of many accolades for his work as a visual artist. In 2016, the Johannes Vermeer Award was presented to him at The Hague. In that same year, the British Film Institute awarded McQueen with a fellowship. His artwork is exhibited and held in major museums around the world; the Portland Art Museum has presented McQueen’s 1998 video work Drumroll, for which he won the 1999 Turner Prize, the highest honor for a British visual artist. A retrospective was recently exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago and at the Schaulager in Basel. Tate Modern and Tate Britain were home to two critically acclaimed shows in 2019/2020, Year 3 and a retrospective, Steve McQueen. In 2020, McQueen was awarded a knighthood in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List for his services to the arts.

Garrett Bradley
Filmmaker & Artist

Presenter: Rajendra Roy, The Celeste Bartos Chief Curator of Film, Museum of Modern Art

Garrett Bradley was born and raised in New York City. She works across narrative, documentary, and experimental modes of filmmaking to address themes such as race, class, familial relationships, social justice, Southern culture, and the history of film in the United States.

In January of 2020, Bradley became the first Black woman to win the Best Director Award in the US Documentary Competition for her feature-length documentary Time.  Bradley’s first solo museum exhibition, American Rhapsody, was curated by Rebecca Matalon at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston. She has participated in two group shows, the 2019 Whitney Biennial, curated by Jane Panetta and Rujeko Hockley, and Bodies of Knowledge at the New Orleans Museum of Art, curated by Katie Pfohl. Her first New York solo exhibition, Projects: Garrett Bradley curated by Thelma Golden, Director and Chief Curator of the Studio Museum in Harlem, is on view through March 15, 2021, at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Projects is presented as a part of a multiyear partnership between the Museum of Modern Art and the Studio Museum in Harlem and features a multichannel video installation of her film America (2019).

Gus Van Sant
Filmmaker & Artist

Presenters: Paige Powell, Photographer; Thomas Lauderdale, Musician; and Walt Curtis, Artist and Portland’s unofficial Poet Laureate

Gus Van Sant, admired internationally as a filmmaker, painter, photographer, and musician, received his BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence in 1975. Since that time his studio painting practice has moved in and out of the foreground of a multi-disciplinary career, becoming a priority again in recent years. Van Sant’s work in different mediums is united by a single overarching interest in portraying people on the fringes of society.

Van Sant’s work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at the Musée de l’Elysée in Lausanne, Switzerland, Le Case d’Arte in Milan, Italy, and the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at the University of Oregon in Eugene, among others. He has participated in numerous group exhibitions since the 1980s, presenting drawings, paintings, photographs, video works, and writing. Among Van Sant’s many internationally acclaimed feature films are Milk (2008); Elephant (2003); Good Will Hunting (1997); My Own Private Idaho (1991); and Drugstore Cowboy (1989).

Mollye Asher

Presenter: Chloe Zhao, Filmmaker (Nomadland)

Mollye Asher is an IFP Gotham Award-winning producer and winner of the 2020 Producers Award from the Film Independent Spirit Awards. Most recently, she produced Carlo Mirabella-Davis’ Swallow (IFC Films), which won Best Actress at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival;  Chloé Zhao’s multi-award winning Nomadland (Searchlight); and The Rider (Sony Pictures Classics). The Rider premiered in the 2017 Cannes Directors Fortnight and won its top prize. It went on to be nominated for four Independent Spirit Awards, including Best Picture, and won Best Feature at the 2018 Gotham Awards. Other credits include the 2014 SXSW Grand Jury Prize winner, Fort Tilden (Orion), by writer/director team, Sarah-Violet Bliss and Charles Rogers; Anja Marquardt’s Spirit Award-nominated film, She’s Lost Control (Berlinale, Monument Releasing); and Chloé Zhao’s debut feature, Songs My Brothers Taught Me (Sundance, Cannes, Kino Lorber).

She recently co-founded the production company The Population with Mynette Louie and Derek Nguyen and is currently in post-production on Josef Kubota Wladyka’s thriller Catch The Fair One. It stars champion boxer Kali Reis and is executive produced by Darren Aronofsky and Protozoa. Asher earned her MFA in Film from NYU and is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Alex Bulkley
Producer & Co-Founder, ShadowMachine Studios

Presenter: Guillermo del Toro, Filmmaker (The Shape of Water)

Alex Bulkley is an Emmy and Annie award-winning producer and co-founder of  SHADOWMACHINE, the acclaimed indie animation studio and production house based in Los Angeles and Portland with a body of work that spans all formats of animation over twenty years including the recent Bojack Horseman (Netflix) and current Final Space (TBS/Adult Swim) and Ten Year Old Tom (HBO). Bulkley is currently producing Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, a stop-motion animated feature film for Netflix, in Portland, Oregon.

2020 Cinema Unbound Awards: The presenters and honorees for last year’s inaugural awards event included 2020 Academy Award winner Bong Joon Ho, Academy Award-nominated director Todd Haynes, multi-dimensional artists and performers John Cameron Mitchell and Justin Vivian Bond, Academy Award-nominated documentary producer Julie Goldman, MOMA’s Curator of Film Rajendra Roy and more. Revisit last year’s awards at

Part of the 44th Portland International Film Festival

March 5 – March 14, 2021

A multi-media feast celebrating all forms of cinematic storytelling, the 44th Portland International Film Festival (PIFF 44) features over 50 films, series, audio stories, and immersive experiences that push the limits of for whom, by whom, and how work is showcased. Featuring special events and programs such as the Future/future prize honoring early-career artists from around the globe, as well as a mix of virtual and in-person drive-in screenings, the festival is the place where international and local storytellers—and audiences—come to experiment and be introduced to new ways of seeing. Learn more at

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