It was a tight race at the Oscars tonight, but the biggest award of the night goes to director Steve McQueen’s heart-wrenching survival tale “12 Years a Slave”, winning best picture, beating out popular names such as “Gravity” and “Dallas Buyer’s Club.”
Adapted by McQueen and screenwriter John Ridley from Solomon Northrup’s 19th century memoir, the film tells the true story of a free black man living in New York city who is captured, drugged, kidnapped, and then sold into slavery in Louisiana where he serves out a grueling sentence as a slave for multiple plantations.
The story pulls as the viewers heart strings with its often graphic depictions of slavery and the horrors that took place – “Either I was going to make a movie about slavery or I wasn’t,” said McQueen – the film proved intense and difficult for many to watch, including those voting for the Oscars.
Although “12 Years a Slave” tells a story of American history, it was made by an internationally diverse team of film makers, including English director McQueen who lives in Amsterdam, star Chiwetel Ejiofor and costar Benedict Cumberbatch are both from Britain and costar Michael Fassbender is German.
Distributed by Fox Searchlight, the study behind other Oscars best picture winner’s such as “Slumdog Millionaire,” McQueen’s film was independently financed, mostly by Bill Pohlad’s River Road Entertainment and Brad Pitt, who also costarred in a major roll as a Canadian abolitionist, also produced the film through his company Plan B.
The film took home other top prizes from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, the Producers Guild of America and Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s Golden Globes.
“12 Years a Slave” also landed nine other Oscar nominations, but only took home three Oscars including Best Supporting Actress, Best Picture, and Best Adapted Screenplay.