12 Years a Slave

12 Years a Slave Information

12 Years a Slave is a 2013 historical drama film based on the autobiography Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup, a free black man who was kidnapped and sold into slavery. The film is directed by Steve McQueen and written by John Ridley. Chiwetel Ejiofor stars as Solomon Northup. 12 Years a Slave premiered at the Telluride Film Festival on August 30, 2013. The film is scheduled to be commercially released on , 2013.


12 Years a Slave is based on the 1853 autobiography of Solomon Northup, a free black man who was kidnapped in Washington, D.C., in 1841 and sold into slavery. He worked on plantations in the state of Louisiana for before his release.



12 Years a Slave is directed by Steve McQueen with John Ridley (Justice League, Red Tails, Static Shock, Three Kings) adapting a screenplay based on Solomon Northup's 1853 autobiography Twelve Years a Slave. McQueen's project, in development for some time, was announced in August 2011 with McQueen to direct and Chiwetel Ejiofor to star as Solomon Northup, a free black man who was kidnapped and sold into slavery. McQueen compared Ejiofor's conduct "of class and dignity" to that of Sidney Poitier and Harry Belafonte. In October 2011, Michael Fassbender (who starred in McQueen's previous films Hunger and Shame) joined the cast. In early 2012, the rest of the roles were cast, and filming was scheduled to begin at the end of June 2012.

With a production budget of , filming began in New Orleans, Louisiana on , 2012. It lasted for seven weeks, concluding on , 2012.


12 Years a Slave premiered at the Telluride Film Festival on August 30, 2013, before screening at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival on September 5 and New York Film Festival in October.

Fox Searchlight Pictures will commercially release 12 Years a Slave on , 2013. The film was initially scheduled to be released in late December 2013. Deadline.com reported that the film had "some exuberant test screenings" that led to the decision to move up the release date. A soundtrack will be released on October 15, 2013.


Critical response

When it premiered at the 2013 Tellruride Film Festival and, more significantly, at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival, 12 Years a Slave has received universal critical acclaim, greatly praised for its acting (particularly for Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, and Lupita Nyong'o), Steve McQueen's direction, screenplay, production values, Hans Zimmer's musical score, and its extreme faithfulness to Solomon Northup's eponymous autobiography. As of September 10, the film holds a 100% "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on fourteen ecstatic reviews with a average score of 9.1/10, and a 96% normalized "Universal Acclaim" rating on Metacritic.

The film's producers, director Steve McQueen, lead actor Chiwetel Ejiofor, supporting actors Michael Fassbender and Lupita Nyong'o, and writer John Ridley were widely tipped for award season success. When commenting on the film's Oscar buzz, Ejiofor said, "I love the film. I think it's a really strong piece of work. But I also want people to come to it without all the buzz and the hype and this and that. It's a story of a man going through an extraordinary circumstance. And I do feel it needs to be engaged with in its own quiet, reflective way."

See also

  • Solomon Northup's Odyssey (1984), a PBS television film directed by Gordon Parks and starring Avery Brooks
  • List of films featuring slavery

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