Fox Searchlight has made one of the big acquisitions of the Fall 2011 festival circuit, snagging domestic distribution for Steve McQueen's provocative drama "Shame."
 
"Shame" had its US premiere at the Telluride Film Festival, drawing raves from critics including this blog's regular Oscar pundit Gregory Ellwood, who speculated that star Michael Fassbender, plus co-star Carey Mulligan, could be Oscar contenders with the proper handling.
 
In the press release announcing the pick-up, Fox Searchlight mentions specific plans for a 2011 release, putting Fassbender and Mulligan in early Oscar discussion.
 
"Steve McQueen’s courageous exploration of modern life’s extremes is breathtaking. He has crafted an extraordinary film that probes some of the deepest and darkest issues ever portrayed on screen with amazingly gifted performances by Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan," state Fox Searchlight Presidents Stephen Gilula and Nancy Utley. 
 
Fassbender, already having himself quite the 2011, stars as Brandon, a sex-addicted New Yorker whose life enters a downward spiral when his younger sister (Mulligan) moves in with him.
 
"Fox Searchlight contacted us immediately after the screening in Telluride to tell us how much they loved the film. Their approach to marketing and distributing the film this year was incredibly detailed and impressive. We are excited to be working with them on a film that is sparking debate and a strong emotional reaction from audiences," say producers Iain Canning and Emile Sherman.
 
Adds McQueen, "This is a brave statement and an important move by Fox Searchlight. I am very happy they came on board to release Shame in the U.S. It's great to be working with a team that is so passionate about cinema."
 
In his review, Ellwood mentioned the "intense sex scenes and nudity" which would make it impossible for "Shame" to be released with an R rating, while McQueen told press at Telluride that he had no plans to cut the movie in any way. The Fox Searchlight release makes no mention of whether "Shame" will be released with an NC-17, or whether it will go out unrated.