Audiences and critics alike are enthralled with Steve McQueen’s 12 Years A Slave. It received standing ovations both at Telluride and its official world premiere at The Toronto International Film Festival Friday night (09/06). Tweeted BuzzFeed senior reporter Adam B. Vary, “12 Years a Slave is the must see movie of the year and should win all the Oscars.”
Director Steve McQueen (Hunger) was approached by Brad Pitt’s Plan B Banner, including Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner, surprised that there were so few movies about slavery, and virtually none through the eyes of a black director. McQueen was honored for the opportunity, and set to work on the John Ridley adapted screenplay from the autobiography of the same name by Solomon Northrup.
Kyle Buchanan of Vulture movies gushed, ” Suspend the betting, close the books, and notify the engraver, I’ve just seen what will surely be this year’s Best Picture winner, and it’s 12 Years A Slave. I’d put my money on a historic Best Director win for Steve McQueen and Chiwetel Ejiofor as forerunner for Best Actor”.
12 Years A Slave is the true story of Solomon Northrop, a free black man living in upstate New York, who is drugged and kidnapped, waking up on a chain gang, in the pre-Civil War south. He learns quickly not to fight his captors or reveal that he is educated.
Said director Steve McQueen in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, “I didn’t make the film to spark a conversation about race, but about how people survive terrible situations. I did want to create a platform about slavery that had never been seen in cinema before.” When asked about some of the brutality in the film McQueen replied, “This is a drama, without actors who can play appalling characters, there would be no drama. They are like athletes, if they couldn’t do it, I would get someone else who could”.
Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael K. Williams, Brad Pitt and Lupita Nyong also star. Academy Award Winning Hans Zimmer (Gladiator) has composed the soundtrack.
Fox Searchlight and New Regency will release the film in theaters October 8.