“It’s a film about human beings who are trying to sort of get through a day. The character, Brandon, is not at all exotic, he’s not a freak—he’s actually just one of us.” – Steve McQueen

Two short years ago, director Steve Mcqueen released Shame, his devastating and veritable look at sex addiction in New York City, to audiences at the Toronto International Film Festival. He has returned to the festival with a new feature, 12 Years A Slave, which has already garnered enormous accolades and giddy hype from the press.

The intimate interview above, titled The Confessions of Steve McQueen, comes courtesy of Nowness and was conducted around the release of Shame. It is shot in a shadowy apartment overlooking the city, feeling eerily similar to Brandon’s exceedingly hellish residence in the film. McQueen had wanted to create an honest exploration of a passively overlooked addiction, and his research with actual addicts in New York, he claims, is what pulled it all together. His thematic aspirations—the sordidness of being trapped in an irredeemable tailspin of addiction, the desolation of having no one to turn to in a large city—are explained with a direct clarity and honesty for the camera. It’s essential viewing for anyone taking the dive into McQueen’s latest outing, as well as those that were troubled by his last unrelenting vision.