Excitement is building for British director Steve McQueen’s 12 Years A Slave, the historical drama based on the autobiography of Solomon Northrup, played by Shakespearean actor Chiwetel Ejiofor. Northrup was a free black man living with his wife and three children in upstate New York when he was kidnapped and sold into slavery, paving the way for horrific circumstances and a desperation to get back to his family.
The film is filled with glittering star power. Michael Fassbinder’s character, (Fassbender has starred in both of Steve McQueen’s two previous films, Hunger and Shame), is described by Black Book as being as ‘adept at brandishing a whip as he is quoting Biblical scripture,’ heads a cast that includes Brad Pitt (who is a producer of the film), Dwight Henry and Quvenzhane Wallis (re-united for the first time since starring in the Academy Award nominated Beasts of the Southern Wild), Benedict Cumberbatch (Star Trek Into Darkness, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey), and Paul Giamatti (Sideways).
Speaking with USA Today, McQueen likens Chiwetel Ejiofor to a Sidney Poitier or a Harry Belafonte. “He is telling the Anne Frank story of America at that time,” says McQueen. “He’s a man that doesn’t want to survive, he wants to live.”
The buzz is so good on 12 Years A Slave that Fox Searchlight has announced it will push the release date up from December 27 to October 18, leaving plenty of time for Oscar excitement to build.