Director Steve McQueen and star Chiwetel Ejiofor Talk About 12 Years a Slave

12 Years a Slave is Steve McQueen’s third directorial effort and the contemporary artist turned filmmaker has done nothing but hit them out the park. With such a strong body of work behind him, MoviesWithButter asked, “Now that you’re established and your work has the attention of a major international audience, did you feel at all obligated to tackle the subject of slavery?” A black man and an Englishman, McQueen said, “No, it was an incredible story. I’m not obligated to make it and I wouldn’t make a film I didn’t want to make.”

Based on the memoir 12 Years a Slave, the film adaptation tracks New York musician Solomon Northrop as he’s lured to Washington D.C., kidnapped and sold into slavery in Louisiana. “I’m part of the diaspora, I’m African,” said McQueen. “Some of the boats went left and some went right, perhaps carrying my father, my uncle. The story is American but America doesn’t own slavery, it’s bigger and more complex than petty nationalism. Slavery has its traces.”

While the British filmmaker produced the film with UK actors of note (most prominently Michael Fassbender and Benedict Cumberbatch) they shot the film in Louisiana, and star Chiwetel Ejiofor said “My character Solomon is from New York, not the south, but my dialect coach Michael Buster, with whom I’ve worked before, talked with me a bit about how an accent might change over 12 years. And as we worked with craftspeople and crew memebers with Louisiana accents a bit of that naturally slips in.”

McQueen says, “I made this picture for people who want to be aware. You don’t make books for people who read and books for those who don’t read. I need to give this to people who are present and attentive now. If you avoid it (race), that’s when people remind you of their suffering and pain and that’s what this is about.”

Sara Vizcarrondo's Latest Blog Entries:

Production for The Two Faces of January began in Athens in August of 2012 and the first day was a major event. Director Hussein Amini planned to stage the...
With a cue from Mike Figgis and the digital revolution (oh, the handheld video and the synth tracks), South Korean provocateur Kim Ki-Duk has returned to his...
Last month, writer/director Paul Mazursky passed away and in honor of the late filmmaker the Landmark Theatre’s Anniversary Classic Series will screen Mazursky...
Around the Block is an Aussie Dangerous Minds with a smarter tack on the racial divide. Then again, maybe it looks that way because it’s easier to see racism...
A horror with threads of gross out comedy, Cabin Fever 3: Patient Zero knows very well it’s cheap but loves itself anyway. After Josh (Brandon Eaton) has a...

More 12 Years a Slave News

Comments