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Twelve Years' a Slave

Post by Admin on Mon Oct 24, 2011 5:17 pm

http://www.screendaily.com/news/distribution/river-road-boards-mcqueens-slave-summit-eyes-afm-sales/5033697.article?

River Road boards McQueen’s Slave; Summit eyes AFM sales

24 October, 2011 | By Jeremy Kay

Bill Pohlad’s River Road Entertainment has joined Plan B as producer and will finance Twelve Years A Slave from red-hot UK filmmaker Steve McQueen. Chiwetel Ejiofor, Brad Pitt and McQueen regular Michael Fassbender to star.
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Re: Twelve Years' a Slave

Post by Admin on Mon Oct 24, 2011 5:19 pm

http://news.yahoo.com/michael-fassbender-joins-mcqueens-12-years-slave-220355629.html

Michael Fassbender joins McQueen's '12 Years a Slave'
ReutersBy Joshua L. Weinstein | Reuters – Tue, Oct 11, 2011

LOS ANGELES (TheWrap.com) - Michael Fassbender is returning to work with his now-frequent director, Steve McQueen, for "12 Years a Slave," TheWrap has confirmed.

Chiwetel Ejiofor also stars.

It's a tough movie based on the true story of Solomon Northrup, a New Yorker who, while visiting Washington in 1841, was kidnapped into slavery. He was rescued from a Louisiana cotton plantation a dozen years later.

McQueen wrote the script with John Ridley. Brad Pitt is producing for his Plan B Entertainment.

The director and actor teamed on the 2008 "Hunger" and on this year's disturbing "Shame."

The "X-Men: First Class" and "Inglorious Basterds" actor next stars alongside Charlize Theron, Guy Pearce and Idris Elba in Fox's tentpole "Promethius." That movie, which Ridley Scott is directing, is about explorers who have to fight a battle to save humanity after discovering a clue to the origins of mankind.

Variety first reported the news.
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Re: Twelve Years' a Slave

Post by Admin on Wed Oct 26, 2011 12:52 am

http://www.filmschoolrejects.com/news/brad-pitt-in-steve-mcqueen-twelve-years-a-slave-kerbl.php

Brad Pitt Picks Up a Role in Steve McQueen’s ‘Twelve Years a Slave’
Casting Couch By Kate Erbland on October 25, 2011

It looks like Brad Pitt will not just talk the talk, but also walk the walk in Steve McQueen’s next project Twelve Years a Slave. Pitt is producing the film through his production company, Plan B, and has reportedly worked on developing the project for a number of years, but now word is out that it won’t be just Pitt the producer showing up for filming, but also Pitt the actor.

A small item in Screen Daily announcing the addition of River Road Entertainment as producers and financiers, along with the news that Summit International will handle sales of the film at the upcoming American Film Market, also included a cast listing for the project. That list included McQueen’s contestant star, Michael Fassbender, along with the already-announced Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Pitt himself. The Playlist went ahead and confirmed the casting with Plan B, who would only confirm that bit of news, but would give no further details.

McQueen and John Ridley have adapted their script from the 1853 autobiography written by Solomon Northup, an African-American man who was born free and later abducted into slavery. Northup had an entire life in his native New York (complete with an education, a musical background, a wife, and three children) when he went to Washington in 1841 under the pretense of a job offer to play fiddle in a traveling circus. Once there, he was kidnapped and drugged. He was then sold into slavery and, for the next twelve years, was shuttled between owners and subjected to brutal conditions.

Northup was eventually freed after he befriended a Canadian carpenter named Samuel Bass, who wrote to Northup’s family and gave them details as to his location. New York had passed a law before Northup was even kidnapped and sold into slavery that required the state to recover any and all African-Americans who had been subject to the same ordeal as Northup had been. Bass’s help was invaluable in getting Northrup freed.

Northup’s story is a fascinating one, a personal tale filled with bizarre and horrific pieces of American history. Ejiofor will play Northup, and though it’s not been announced, I suspect that Fassbender will be playing the Bass role. Now just what could Mr. Pitt be signing up for…? Whatever it is, this is the exact type of work that Pitt should be doing. As one of those wacky cinephiles that think Pitt has never been better than he was in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, I’m itching to see him in another beefy historical drama.

The project is set to begin filming next year, most likely after what should be heavy awards buzz for both Fassbender and McQueen and their latest film, Shame, has worn off.
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Re: Twelve Years' a Slave

Post by Admin on Thu Jan 26, 2012 11:05 pm

http://blogs.indiewire.com/theplaylist/brad-pitt-says-hell-only-cameo-in-twelve-years-a-slave-hopes-world-war-z-will-have-socio-political-themes

Brad Pitt Says He'll Only Cameo In 'Twelve Years A Slave,' Hopes 'World War Z' Will Have Socio-Political Themes
News by Oliver Lyttelton | January 26, 2012 | 0 Comments

Whoever ends up winning at the Academy Awards in a few weeks (spoiler: "The Artist"), Brad Pitt will still pretty much be the belle of the ball. He's nominated for Best Actor for "Moneyball," a film that, without Pitt's perseverance, likely wouldn't have gotten made after Sony pulled the plug on Steven Soderbergh's version, while the star also has a nomination in his producer capacity for Best Picture for the project. His other baby of 2011, "The Tree of Life," also surprised many with nominations for Best Picture and Best Director, and Pitt may find himself with a third nomination if the Academy names him as one of the eligible producers on that film.

But Pitt being Pitt, he's not resting on his laurels. He'll next be seen in one of our most anticipated films of the year, Andrew Dominik's "Cogan's Trade," but down the line are two more projects from his production company Plan B, and as part of an extensive cover story in The Hollywood Reporter, the actor's spilled the beans on both of them.

First up, coming this Christmas, is "World War Z," the long-gestating adaptation of Max Brooks' best-seller, a fictional oral history of a zombie plague that brings the world to its knees. The film finally got rolling last summer, with "Quantum of Solace" helmer Marc Forster directing, but some fans were concerned by reports that the script, by J. Michael Straczynski ("Changeling") and Matthew Michael Carnahan ("The Kingdom"), was drastically departing from the source material. Would this just turn out to be a big dumb blockbuster? Pitt suggests not, telling the trade that he hopes it'll follow the best examples of the genre since "Night of the Living Dead" in reflecting the world around it, even while providing thrills: "I thought it was an interesting experiment. I thought, 'Can we take this genre movie and use it as a Trojan horse for social-political problems?'

And coming after that will be another, less multiplex-friendly film: "Twelve Years A Slave," the third film by "Hunger" and "Shame" director Steve McQueen. The film is backed by Pitt's production company, with the actor announced as part of the cast, but he tells the trade that it won't be a large role: "I'm only doing a small cameo, but it stars Michael Fassbender and Chiwetel Ejiofor, and there've been very few movies about slavery, certainly that had the impact of 'Roots.'" The film, written by McQueen and John Ridley ("Three Kings"), tells the story of Solomon Northrup (Ejiofor), a free man in the pre-Civil War era tricked into slavery, who only received his freedom when a Canadian carpenter (Fassbender) helped Northrup's wife launch a court case to highlight the injustice.

That picture will get underway in the summer, so will likely hit in 2013, while "World War Z" lands on December 21st.
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Re: Twelve Years' a Slave

Post by Admin on Thu Jan 26, 2012 11:06 pm

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/brad-pitt-angelina-jolie-oscars-moneyball-tree-of-life-284533

Oscar Nominee Brad Pitt On The Unmentionables: Marriage, Politics and Religion
10:10 AM PST 1/25/2012 by THR Staff

Frank W. Ockenfels 3
The new issue of Hollywood Reporter features the double (maybe triple) Oscar threat as he opens up about his career (the brutal fight to save "Moneyball"), fame (and his depression in the '90s), President Obama, and plans to make partner Angelina Jolie his wife.

Try to set up an interview with Brad Pitt, and you instantly plunge into his almost Dada-esque world. After all, where do you go? A restaurant rendez-vous would devolve into a scrum of gawkers and gapers; his suggestion that we meet at this publication’s office creates such a stir among jaded journalists, it is rapidly nixed; and Pitt’s house in the Hollywood Hills is apparently out of bounds, reserved for his partner, Angelina Jolie, and their six kids.
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So, The Hollywood Reporter executive editor, features, Steven Galloway found himself feeling like a participant in the witness protection program, ensconced in a 14th-floor-suite at Hollywood's W Hotel Jan. 20, because Pitt’s Cadillac Escalade can make a quick in-and-out to avoid the paparazzi thirsting to behold him.On this particular morning media reports surfaced revealing that police had interviewed his bodyguard about human limbs scattered near the Hollywood sign. Andd, he can’t help being bemused. “I was watching CNN, and they said, ‘Brad Pitt’s home!’ and, ‘Brad Pitt’s bodyguard!’ ” he laughs in disbelief. “I’m like: ‘Why? Why?’ ”The report is nonsense, of course: His security chief happened to pass a policeman who asked if Pitt’s surveillance cameras had recorded anything strange, which led to CNN’s proclamation: “Police interview Brad Pitt’s bodyguard, search Hollywood Hills for more body parts.”

PHOTOS: Outtakes from Brad Pitt's THR Cover Shoot

Still Pitt remains unfazed. During an afternoon together, Pitt was thoughtful, pensive and discussed everything from his politics (supports President Obama) and religion (he veers between agnosticism and atheism), to his relationship with parter of over six years, Angelina Jolie and their six kids.

As for his two (maybe three depending on what the Academy decides his producer status is for Tree of Life) Oscar nominations for Moneyball (both for acting and producing), "It's a great honor," Pitt tells THR.

Some of the other personal details he shared in THR's cover story:

PHOTOS: The Hollywood Reporter Cover Stories

WHY SCOTT RUDIN CREDITS HIM AS MONEYBALL'S SAVIOR
The project began its long journey five years ago, when Sony Pictures co-chairman Amy Pascal showed Pitt Michael Lewis' 2003 nonfiction book about baseball team GM Billy Beane and the statistics wunderkind who helped him transform the Oakland Athletics. At the time, writer Stan Chervin and director David Frankel (The Devil Wears Prada) were developing it with a decidedly comedic touch. Pitt looked at the screenplay, and at Beane himself, and wanted to go in a different direction: "I read the book, and this idea of second chances and how we sometimes let ourselves be rated too much by others -- we put so much emphasis on a paycheck or what a magazine says -- made me think, 'Oh my God, there's something much bigger here.' "

He offered to leave the film with Frankel, but the director graciously departed, allowing Pitt to develop the story as he saw fit. Not a baseball fan (though he says he loves sports, especially football and soccer), it was the nuances of Beane's character that intrigued him. And so, working with producers Michael De Luca and Rachael Horovitz, he brought on Steven Zaillian (Schindler's List) to script and asked his friend Steven Soderbergh (Ocean's Eleven) to direct.

PHOTOS: Brad Pitt's Most Memorable Movies

Sony had second thoughts. "We were supposed to leave on a Sunday to start shooting, and Steven handed it in on a Wednesday or Thursday, and the studio was not feeling good," says Pitt. "It's not that they didn't like the idea; they did not like the price" -- about $60 million. What happened next has been amply recounted: how Pascal pulled the plug; how she gave Soderbergh and Pitt several days to shop the project; how everybody passed. "Nobody wanted to buy disgraced goods," he adds. "It was dead."

But Pitt refused to let it die, calling Pascal and urging her to stick with the movie. "There would be noMoneyball without him," says producer Scott Rudin. "He saved it single-handedly, and he deserves the credit for its existing at all."

PITT ON POLITICS
Jodi Kantor’s new book The Obamas describes Pitt as “awkward” in a meeting with the president. “I probably was — you don’t want to impose on a busy man,” he says. But, he’s more interested in Obama himself, particularly whether the commander in chief has stopped smoking, as Pitt would dearly like to do. While backing Obama, he nonetheless was glued to the Republican debate Jan. 19. “I’m an Obama supporter, no question,” he says. “But it doesn’t mean there’s nothing to learn from the other side.”

PITT ON RELIGION
All his life, Pitt has learned from the other side. That’s what led him to make a leap of non-faith when he rejected his Southern Baptist upbringing. “I grew up very religious, and I don’t have a great relationship with religion,” he reflects. “I oscillate between agnosticism and atheism.” Pitt says differences over religion make his parents, William and Jane, "sad, but I have parents that love me unconditionally."

PHOTOS: Behind the Scenes of 'Moneyball' With Brad Pitt

DEPRESSION, POT AND HOW HE GOT THROUGH IT
While Pitt’s star ascended with 1992’s A River Runs Through It, 1994’s Legends of the Fall and 1995’s Seven, his personal life declined.“I got really sick of myself at the end of the 1990s: I was hiding out from the celebrity thing; I was smoking way too much dope; I was sitting on the couch and just turning into a doughnut; and I really got irritated with myself,” he says. “I got to: ‘What’s the point? I know better than this.’ ” Pitt wrestled with dark thoughts: “I used to deal with depression, but I don’t now, not this decade — maybe last decade. But that’s also figuring out who you are. I see it as a great education, as one of the seasons or a semester: ‘This semester I was majoring in depression.’ I was doing the same thing every night and numbing myself to sleep — the same routine: Couldn’t wait to get home and hide out. But that feeling of unease was growing and one night I just said, ‘This is a waste.’

PHOTOS: 'Moneyball' Premiere in Oakland

A trip to Casablanca, Morocco, in the mid-to-late 1990s, “where I saw poverty to an extreme I had never witnessed before, and we talked about inequality and health care, and I saw just what I felt was so unnecessary, that people should have to survive in these circumstances — and the children were inflicted with a lot of deformities, and things that could have been avoided had become their sentence. It stuck with me.” Almost overnight, he decided something had to give. “I just quit. I stopped grass then — I mean, pretty much — and decided to get off the couch.”

GETTING MARRIED: "WE'D LIKE TO"
He oscillates, too, on the subject of whether he’ll get married, and it’s clear Pitt has shifted from his promise that this won’t happen until gay marriage is legalized. “We’d actually like to,” he says of his seven-year partner, Jolie, “and it seems to mean more and more to our kids. We made this declaration some time ago that we weren’t going to do it till everyone can. But I don’t think we’ll be able to hold out. It means so much to my kids, and they ask a lot. And it means something to me, too, to make that kind of commitment.” Has he asked Jolie to marry him? “I’m not going to go any further,” says Pitt. “But to be in love with someone and be raising a family with someone and want to make that commitment and not be able to is ludicrous, just ludicrous.”

VIDEO: Q&A with 'Moneyball' actors Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill

MAYBE MORE KIDS -- EVEN IF THEY STEAL HIS CANE
Having children, he says, has been “the most grounding thing.” Would he have more? “We haven’t closed the book on it. There’s a really nice balance in the house right now, but if we see the need and get that lightning bolt that says, ‘We can help this person; we could do something here,’ then absolutely.” It was while carrying Vivienne — one of his children, many adopted, whose ages range from 3 to 10 — that Pitt fell and hurt his knee, causing him to walk with the cane his friend George Clooney spoofed during the Golden Globes. It wasn’t a skiing accident, contrary to reports. “I think George went down the line, making things up,” Pitt laughs. “I was just walking in our backyard, on a hill, carrying my daughter, and I slipped — and it was those parental instincts: me or her. And she’s fine.” The cane is nowhere to be seen today, and he jokes about how his children kept stealing it until he gave them canes of their own.

STORY: Pitt as Producer: When the Oscar Nominated Actor Goes Off Camera

HIS NEXT BIG PROJECTS
World War Z, based on the Max Brooks book about a global zombie war — and the first of a planned franchise — drew him because “I thought it was an interesting experiment. I thought, ‘Can we take this genre movie and use it as a Trojan horse for social-political problems?’ ”

Twelve Years a Slave, to be filmed by Shame helmer Steve McQueen, tells the story of “a free black man in the north who is kidnapped and sold into slavery in the South. I’m only doing a small cameo, but it stars Michael Fassbender and Chiwetel Ejiofor and there’ve been very few movies about slavery, certainly that had the impact of Roots.”
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Re: Twelve Years' a Slave

Post by Admin on Thu Jan 26, 2012 11:07 pm

http://collider.com/12-years-a-slave-image-synopsis/124115/

First Synopsis and Promo Poster for 12 YEARS A SLAVE Starring Brad Pitt and Michael Fassbender
by Adam Chitwood Posted:November 2nd, 2011 at 2:41 pm

Continuing on with more information out of AFM, we’ve got the first synopsis and promo poster for 12 Years a Slave. Director Steve McQueen (Shame) reteams with Michael Fassbender in this adaptation of Solomon Northup’s autobiography. Northup was a free, educated black man living in New York City when he was kidnapped and forced into slavery for 12 years in the South. Chiwetel Ejofor stars as Northup alongside Fassbender and Brad Pitt. McQueen’s Shame is garnering serious awards attention (especially for Fassbender’s performance), and brutally candid touch should make 12 Years a Slave an unflinching and emotional pic. Hit the jump to check out the promo image and detailed synopsis.

12-years-a-slave-promo-poster

Here’s the full synopsis for 12 Years a Slave:

Based on a true story, 12 YEARS A SLAVE is a riveting account of a free black man kidnapped from New York and sold into brutal slavery in mid-1850s Louisiana, and the inspiring story of his desperate struggle to return home to his family.

SOLOMON NORTHUP (Chiwtel Ejiofor), an educated black man with a gift for music, lives with his wife and children in Saratoga, New York. One day, when his family is out of town, he is approached by two men claiming to be circus promoters. Solomon agrees to travel with them briefly, playing the fiddle while they perform. But after sharing a drink with the men, he awakens to find he has been drugged and bound and faces a horrifying reality: he is being shipped to the South as a slave.

No one listens to Solomon’s claim that he has papers proving his status as a free man. Despairing, he plots his escape, only to be foiled at every turn. He is sold to WILLIAM FORD, a kindly mill owner who appreciates Solomon’s thoughtful nature. But Ford is forced to sell him to a cruel master who subjects him and other slaves to unspeakable brutality. For years, Solomon nurtures his dreams of returning home. He stashes slips of stolen paper in his fiddle and develops a natural ink with which to write a letter. But when his greatest efforts come to nothing, he realizes just how trapped he is. Even if he could write the letter without being caught, where would he send it? Whom could he trust to deliver it? And will he even survive long enough to be rescued?

Refusing to abandon hope, Solomon watches helplessly as those around him succumb to violence, crushing emotional abuse and hopelessness. He realizes that he will have to take incredible risks, and depend on the most unlikely people, if he is ever to regain his freedom and be reunited with his family.
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Re: Twelve Years' a Slave

Post by Admin on Thu Jan 26, 2012 11:07 pm

http://thefilmstage.com/news/promo-poster-confirms-2012-release-for-steve-mcqueens-12-years-a-slave-starring-ejiofor-fassbender-and-pitt/

Promo Poster Confirms 2012 Release For Steve McQueen’s ’12 Years a Slave’ Starring Ejiofor, Fassbender and Pitt
Posted by Jordan Raup, on November 2, 2011 at 7:44 pm

The filmmakers behind my current top two films of the year (The Tree of Life and Shame) are teaming up for another project and now we have an official promo poster and synopsis to prove it, just as we got last year for Steve McQueen‘s sex addiction drama. Provided by Collider at American Film Market, the promo poster for 12 Years a Slave reveals that a 2012 release is intended. That is if a distributor is acquired, an acquisition almost guaranteed after buyers went crazy for the NC-17 Shame, finally going to Fox Searchlight.

McQueen will be reteaming with Michael Fassbender and have Brad Pitt (also producer) in a role, but it is Chiwetel Ejiofor who will be leading the drama. We now have an official synopsis from the script by McQueen and John Ridley (Three Kings), which can be read below, followed by the poster.

Based on a true story, 12 YEARS A SLAVE is a riveting account of a free black man kidnapped from New York and sold into brutal slavery in mid-1850s Louisiana, and the inspiring story of his desperate struggle to return home to his family.

SOLOMON NORTHUP (Chiwtel Ejiofor), an educated black man with a gift for music, lives with his wife and children in Saratoga, New York. One day, when his family is out of town, he is approached by two men claiming to be circus promoters. Solomon agrees to travel with them briefly, playing the fiddle while they perform. But after sharing a drink with the men, he awakens to find he has been drugged and bound and faces a horrifying reality: he is being shipped to the South as a slave.

No one listens to Solomon’s claim that he has papers proving his status as a free man. Despairing, he plots his escape, only to be foiled at every turn. He is sold to WILLIAM FORD, a kindly mill owner who appreciates Solomon’s thoughtful nature. But Ford is forced to sell him to a cruel master who subjects him and other slaves to unspeakable brutality. For years, Solomon nurtures his dreams of returning home. He stashes slips of stolen paper in his fiddle and develops a natural ink with which to write a letter. But when his greatest efforts come to nothing, he realizes just how trapped he is. Even if he could write the letter without being caught, where would he send it? Whom could he trust to deliver it? And will he even survive long enough to be rescued?

Refusing to abandon hope, Solomon watches helplessly as those around him succumb to violence, crushing emotional abuse and hopelessness. He realizes that he will have to take incredible risks, and depend on the most unlikely people, if he is ever to regain his freedom and be reunited with his family.

Update: A French Shame poster has also been released via IMPawards, placing Fassbender on the bed instead of just sheets like the US one.

Shame will hit theaters December 2nd, 2011 in limited release (new trailer & clip from yesterday), while we can expect Slave next year.
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Re: Twelve Years' a Slave

Post by Admin on Sat Feb 11, 2012 1:04 am

http://blogs.indiewire.com/shadowandact/from-book-to-film-a-look-at-steve-mcqueens-upcoming-adaptation-of-12-years-a-slave-starring-chiwetel-ejiofor

From Book To Film - A Look At Steve McQueen's Upcoming Adaptation Of "12 Years A Slave" (Starring Chiwetel Ejiofor)
Features by Tambay | February 6, 2012 | 13 Comments

It's a short read (but not necessarily quick, given the overly formal, even ponderous prose), and a relatively straightforward story: free black man in early 1800s is kidnapped and sold into slavery, where he spends 12 years, until he's freed again.
It's a first-person narrative, told entirely from Solomon Northup's POV, which is refreshing in a way, given that stories like these that become films are often based on works penned in the third-person and usually by white authors. Not this time; however, whether director Steve McQueen and producer Brad Pitt are planning a direct translation from book to film isn't yet known. Let's hope so, and that some new (white) character isn't created, and the story then becomes his, instead of Northup's as should be the case.

There isn't a lot I can say without giving away plot elements; the meat of the narrative comprises of those 12 years he spent in bondage, as the title of the book states, and I don't think it's necessary for me to retell every single story of whippings, working in fields picking cotton, sicknesses, deaths, attempts to escape, etc, etc, etc. I'd like to believe that we're all somewhat familiar with the many physical and mental ills of slavery. Although, unlike Quentin Tarantino's fictional exploitative Django Unchained, Northrupp's story is very real and raw, absent of any naked, or scantily-clad black slave women roaming the plantation, as, as already noted, it's very much HIS story. Much of the book is made up of his thoughts on his experiences, and what he sees.

He's a family man with a wife and 3 children, and, by his account, was a good husband to his wife and father to his children. He references them often while in bondage, quite possibly helping to keep him alive and hopeful that he'll one day be free again. So there isn't any correspondence between him and them for the entire 12 years of his captivity. In fact, they're not even sure what happened to him or where he is during that long stretch of time. But as we find out towards the end of the novel, there was a search for him and a belief that he had indeed been kidnapped into slavery.

It actually reads somewhat like a mystery novel; you know what's ultimately going to happen, that there's likely some sort of happy ending coming, and that he'd eventually be a free man again; BUT you just don't know exactly how that's going to happen. And that mystery helps keep you anxious; otherwise it's grueling page after page of the day-to-day lives of slaves, which, as everyone should know by now, wasn't much living at all.

He's first *master* named William Ford we learn is what you'd call a *good master.* He's still very much a slave owner, but, unlike the plantation owner Northup spends much of his 12 years with, Ford is actually kind to his slaves. He demonstrates a genuine care and compassion for them that other *masters* most certainly do not. And initially, it looks as if Northup's 12 years, though while still in bondage as a slave, working for Ford, may not be the worst experience a slave could have at the time.

But that changes eventually and rather quickly, much to his misfortune, when he becomes the property of one Edwin Epps. Epps is your garden variety uneducated, ignorant, alcoholic redneck asshole to put it plainly. It's so easy to hate him, and you do so instantly, from the moment you first meet him. He's probably middle-aged and, from what I gathered in Northup's description of him, large - more fat than muscle - and just a mean bastard; an ignorant one who drinks a lot. A lethal combo I'd say - ignorant, mean and an alcoholic. And in a position of power too I should also add.

Northup spends 10 of his 12 years with Epps; long enough to actually gain Epps' confidence (somewhat) that Epps eventually puts Northup in charge of his slaves while they worked; in fact, there are moments when Epps asks Northup to whip the other slaves; of course Northup is conflicted by this. I won't tell you whether he follows through or not, however.

Northup is known as a jack-of-all-trades because he can do a variety of things other slaves cannot or have never been allowed to do - from reading, to building a raft, swimming, giving business advice and ideas to his owners; some of those *skills* contributes to them liking him - as much as a slave master can like his/her slaves.

But Epps' confidence in Northup - or more like Epps' stupidity and Northup's smarts do come in handy, and save Northup from a terrible lashing or two.

There are two moments of rebellion on Northup's part that are worth noting, and you'll probably cheer when you see them, assuming they aren't discarded in translation from book to screen. But I don't see why they would be. Keep in mind that Northup was born a free man, educated, learned, has traveled a bit (at least to areas in which a free black man can roam unabated) and initially he isn't all that familiar with the lives of those who are in chains; it's almost a foreign world to him. He's aware certainly that slavery exists, just not where he lives; and he experiences a rude awakening when he's first captured. He still very much believes himself to be a man, and all that the word connotes, and that he deserves to be treated with the same kind of dignity and respect as any other man, screaming his freedom - beliefs that he holds early into his captivity; but all that he quickly learns to suppress at the hands of some cruel slave traders and plantation owners. He larns his place, as they'd say, and you can imagine what larning him involves.

So his rebellion comes early and it actually takes you by surprise because you immediately wonder if this man knows that he's risking his own life by physically fighting with his master. At first you cheer for him; but that's quickly replaced with dread, because you know what's likely coming next - either a serious skin-peeling lashing, or a hanging; or something altogether worse.

He attempts to escape once, but not quite. But I won't explain what I mean by "not quite."

He can play the violin, and his ability actually comes in rather handy at times, making him somewhat popular amongst the Bayou plantation owners (where he spent most of his 12 years in bondage) who make requests that he perform for them; and this allows him to move around a bit, instead of being chained (literally and figuratively) to a single location. The luxury to travel affords him the opportunity to meet other slaves and plantation owners, all contributing to and even expanding on his experiences - in some cases for the better; in other cases, for the worse.

But those moments (of rebellion, escape and travel to other plantations to perform with his instrument) help shake up the monotony and dread of the day-to-day, not only for the slave, but also for the reader.

Chiwetel Ejiofor will play Solomon Northup, and I could actually very easily see him in the role as I read the book; and depending on how McQueen interprets the novel, I'd say pencil in Ejiofor for his first Oscar nomination after the film is released; I didn't say he'd win, but it's the kind of role that I think will attract critical acclaim.

There's a duality in the character (the erudite Northup which he has to suppress at times throughout the narrative, and the down-trodden slave "Platt" as he's called when he's sold into slavery) that demands the talents of a capable actor who can convincingly navigate both worlds believably, otherwise it could border on comedy when there isn't supposed to be any. However, it's not all sadness and doom; there are moments of joy and even hilarity as well.

As already noted, there are certainly several other black characters, all slaves old and young; Several are introduced along the way; some returning in later chapters, others we meet once or twice and never hear from again. But Northup is the star of this show; it's his story after all.

The only other character that takes up almost as much ink (and thus eventually screen time) as Northup, is the white plantation owner Edwin Epps, who Northup answers to for 10 of the 12 years he's in captivity, with Epps occasionally "renting" him out to other neighboring plantation owners.

Michael Fassbender and Brad Pitt are the only other actors to sign up to star in the film currently, but I don't see either of them in the Epps role. Physically they don't fit, unless McQueen and Pitt plan on taking some creative liberties with the part. In fact, I'd say that of all the major roles in this story, there isn't much that fit Fassbender or Pitt. Northup's initial Circus kidnappers are a possibility, but those parts are relatively minor. They show up early in the narrative, and then disappear until the closing when they are mentioned again. As I stated, the meat of the story, the bulk of it happens while Northup's in bondage; what happens before he's capture and after he's freed happen rather quickly.

There is a character named Tibeats, another nasty slave driver. A carpenter who William Ford is indebted to and so has to give Northup to him to assist with his carpentry. Tibeats is just as bad as Epps (he actually tries to kill Northup at least once), but Northup is with him for a short period of time thankfully. That's a role that could go to either Fassbender or Pitt I'd guess. But it's not a major part either.

Also worth noting, there isn't what I'd call a lead female role in this. There are 3 main women characters in Northup's life he writes about - his wife Anne who's mixed race, Patsey, a young woman slave who Epps keeps as a mistress, and Eliza, also a slave, as well as a mother who is separated from her children in a slave auction.

Anne only appears early in the story before Northup is kidnapped, and then again at the end after he's freed; Eliza and Patsey feature more constantly; although if I were to say which of the 2 was the more prominent in the story, I'd say Patsey, and her story is a sad, sad one. She's considered the best cotton picker of Epps' slaves, and is also his mistress, although certainly not because she wants to be. Epps is married and his wife is aware of his infidelities with Patsey, and for that reason, she routinely orders Patsey whipped. She hates Patsey and of course blames her for Epps' indiscretions, even though she doesn't exactly have any say in the matter. So she's forced to sleep with Epps and faces his wrath if she doesn't; but if she does sleep with him, faces Epps' wife's wrath. There's a scene in which Patsey is whipped by Epps so cruelly that I felt it just from reading Northup's words as he described the scene. I don't know how McQueen will shoot that particular sequence, but it'll be incredibly painful to watch. If you don't already hate Epps by then (and really, given everything else he does prior, you should), this will most certainly do it.

But it'll be interesting to see who McQueen casts in those 3 roles. No faces immediately came to mind as I read Northup's accounts of their individual plights, but I'd say that there are a number of solid actresses to choose from.

Overall it's a hard read, mostly because of the history it depicts. Any real slave narrative likely isn't going to be anything *entertaining*. Those weren't exactly fun and exciting times for black people. Although I'd say that Northup's story is likely one of the few with what we'd call a happy ending. He regains his freedom and returns to his family, and goes on to live as a free man until his death; we could even say justice is served (somewhat). But it still doesn't feel as sweet after the journey that we take with him to get there, and all the lives the reader is introduced to along the way who aren't as, shall we say, lucky as Northup.

In closing, I should note that there has been some criticism of the narrative - notably that it was co-written by David Wilson, an attorney who approached Northup after he was freed, to collaborate on retelling his story (from what I read, his case became a very popular one receiving lots of public attention). The concern some have is that the story as told in the book may not all be Northup's words, and that Wilson may have made his own contributions to sensationalize the narrative and make it more marketable. There isn't a consensus on that from what my research tells me, but it's said that "most" scholars believe Northup's words trump Wilson's.

Another critique is that it didn't deserve all the hype it received after it was published, with some reportedly holding it up as an important text for use in the argument against slavery. Critics dismissed that claim, stating that Northup's narrative simply can't be compared to, or spoken of in the same breadth as those by Frederick Douglass for example.

I certainly wouldn't call it the definitive slave narrative, if there even is one; it's one man's story, and Northup himself states at the end of the book that his story isn't representative of others, even acknowledging that he may have had it much easier than most. But still, it's impossible to have his experience, no matter how *easy* some might say it was, and not come out of it a completely different human being.

I actually plan to read the book again and will likely return for a few sporadic pieces of more in-depth analysis of sequences and characters; it'll also be good to discuss in a group with others who've read it.
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Re: Twelve Years' a Slave

Post by Admin on Sat Feb 11, 2012 1:04 am

http://blogs.indiewire.com/theplaylist/brad-pitt-says-hell-only-cameo-in-twelve-years-a-slave-hopes-world-war-z-will-have-socio-political-themes

Brad Pitt Says He'll Only Cameo In 'Twelve Years A Slave,' Hopes 'World War Z' Will Have Socio-Political Themes
News by Oliver Lyttelton | January 26, 2012 | 0 Comments

Whoever ends up winning at the Academy Awards in a few weeks (spoiler: "The Artist"), Brad Pitt will still pretty much be the belle of the ball. He's nominated for Best Actor for "Moneyball," a film that, without Pitt's perseverance, likely wouldn't have gotten made after Sony pulled the plug on Steven Soderbergh's version, while the star also has a nomination in his producer capacity for Best Picture for the project. His other baby of 2011, "The Tree of Life," also surprised many with nominations for Best Picture and Best Director, and Pitt may find himself with a third nomination if the Academy names him as one of the eligible producers on that film.

But Pitt being Pitt, he's not resting on his laurels. He'll next be seen in one of our most anticipated films of the year, Andrew Dominik's "Cogan's Trade," but down the line are two more projects from his production company Plan B, and as part of an extensive cover story in The Hollywood Reporter, the actor's spilled the beans on both of them.

First up, coming this Christmas, is "World War Z," the long-gestating adaptation of Max Brooks' best-seller, a fictional oral history of a zombie plague that brings the world to its knees. The film finally got rolling last summer, with "Quantum of Solace" helmer Marc Forster directing, but some fans were concerned by reports that the script, by J. Michael Straczynski ("Changeling") and Matthew Michael Carnahan ("The Kingdom"), was drastically departing from the source material. Would this just turn out to be a big dumb blockbuster? Pitt suggests not, telling the trade that he hopes it'll follow the best examples of the genre since "Night of the Living Dead" in reflecting the world around it, even while providing thrills: "I thought it was an interesting experiment. I thought, 'Can we take this genre movie and use it as a Trojan horse for social-political problems?'

And coming after that will be another, less multiplex-friendly film: "Twelve Years A Slave," the third film by "Hunger" and "Shame" director Steve McQueen. The film is backed by Pitt's production company, with the actor announced as part of the cast, but he tells the trade that it won't be a large role: "I'm only doing a small cameo, but it stars Michael Fassbender and Chiwetel Ejiofor, and there've been very few movies about slavery, certainly that had the impact of 'Roots.'" The film, written by McQueen and John Ridley ("Three Kings"), tells the story of Solomon Northrup (Ejiofor), a free man in the pre-Civil War era tricked into slavery, who only received his freedom when a Canadian carpenter (Fassbender) helped Northrup's wife launch a court case to highlight the injustice.

That picture will get underway in the summer, so will likely hit in 2013, while "World War Z" lands on December 21st.
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Re: Twelve Years' a Slave

Post by Admin on Sun Feb 19, 2012 10:28 pm

http://www.imdb.com/news/ni22813306/

Gooding, Jr. Eyes London Move

15 February 2012 12:01 AM, PST | WENN | See recent WENN news »

Oscar-winner Cuba Gooding, Jr. is planning to move to Britain in a bid to work with acclaimed director Steve McQueen.

The Jerry Maguire star admits he is so desperate to appear in the Shame filmmaker's next project, he is willing to relocate to London.

He says, "I want to do some U.K. stuff, so I just got myself a U.K. agent.

"I've met too many wonderful people here. I just had dinner with Steve last night, who said he's excited about his next thing and wants to talk to me about it.

"I hate that I come to England and I don't know the films or haven't watched the TV shows; it frustrates the hell out of me.

"So I'm going to come over here for a bit and see if I can inject myself into something."
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Re: Twelve Years' a Slave

Post by Admin on Thu May 24, 2012 11:20 pm

http://www.rte.ie/ten/2012/0523/neggar.html

Ruth Negga set for Fassbender film
Wednesday 23 May 2012
RTE's Love/Hate actress, Ruth Negga has been cast by Steve McQueen in his upcoming drama Twelve Years a Slave.

The Irish/Ethiopian actress, known for her role as Rosie in Love/Hate will join fellow Irish actor Michael Fassbender, as well as Brad Pitt and recently cast Paul Dano (There Will Be Blood) in the adaption of Solomon Northup's 1853 autobiography.

Director Steve McQueen, who has previously worked with Fassbender on dramas Shame and the Cannes Palm D'Or winning Hunger, co-wrote the script with John Ridley, who is also the executive producer on upcoming Jimi Hendrix biopic All Is By My Side, which is to begin filming in Ireland this month.

Production on Twelve Years a Slave is scheduled to begin at the end of June, with a theatrical release expected in 2013. Brad Pitt's Plan B production company will produce the film.

IFTA-winning Negga recently starred alongside Samuel L. Jackson in The Samaritan, and can be seen next in the TV series Coup, a thriller centred on the relationship between big business and politics, starring Irish actor Gabriel Byrne.

The 30-year-old actress, who starred in the first two series of Love/Hate and recently played Shirley Bassey in BBC drama Shirley has also starred in E4's Misfits, along with Love/Hate co-star Robert Sheehan.
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Re: Twelve Years' a Slave

Post by Admin on Wed May 30, 2012 7:57 pm

http://blogs.indiewire.com/shadowandact/c2e37010-a93d-11e1-bcc4-123138165f92

We've Read It! Thoughts On Steve McQueen's "12 Years A Slave" Script
Features by Vanessa Martinez | May 29, 2012 9:05 AM

I had an opportunity to read a 2011 draft Steve McQueen’s 12 Years A Slave, a film we’ve been eagerly anticipating and debating about for a several months now. Casting has been well underway. We know Chiwetel Ejiofor is slated to play Solomon Northup (excellent choice by the way) a free Black man, a distinguished fiddler player from the north, kidnapped in the mid 1800’s by two con-men, who convince Northup to come along with them to join a grand circus tour, while Northup’s wife and children are out of town.

From the script, we can first start with being glad that the film will definitely be told from Northup’s POV throughout. None of the white men are really “heroes” or glorified. It’s brutal, unflinching, and, needless to say, poignant and obviously tragic, given the subject matter, on which the writer/director doesn’t compromise.

It’s Hunger/Shame’s McQueen all the way.

I haven’t read the original Solomon Northup narrative; I’ve read the summary though, and if you’ve read Tambay’s book-to-film write up, you can expect a pretty faithful adaptation, albeit with some brilliant creative liberties taken by McQueen; and since I’m not giving away any spoilers, all I can say is that they make the narrative all the more immersive.

In the comment section of that post, there were some concerns regarding the casting of Brad Pitt and Michael Fassbender, given the physical appearance of the despicable characters they may portray, who are hardly described as handsome in the narratives. One of those characters - a major one in the film - is that of Edwin Epps, the evil plantation owner who enslaves Northup for the latter part of his captivity. As Tambay plainly put it, “Epps is your garden variety uneducated, ignorant, alcoholic, redneck asshole;” his character certainly fits that description in the script.

We now know, from our character details update last month, Pitt will portray a Northern lawyer who helps free Northup. That character, although at first glance may be perceived as the proverbial “white hero” role for Pitt, is of relatively minor consequence. Up until that point in the story, you'll probably be wondering where/when Solomon's white knight will ride into the frame to save him. But he never quite comes.

By the time our Nothern lawyer enters the story, Northup has already been brutalized and/or betrayed by almost every white character he comes in contact with while in bondage; and after everything he'd been through, taking place over an atrocious 12 YEARS, to say that the justice in his rescue tastes bittersweet, is an understatement.

In that casting update, we speculated that Fassbender would most likely play the ruthless Edwin Epps; he’s confirmed to portray a plantation owner, and although there are several of them in the script, Epps is the most prominent; it only makes sense that Fassbender’s rising star will be showcased here. And, to say the least, it will be extremely challenging for him, especially psychologically.

If he does play Epps, the last thing you will think about is how charming or handsome Fassbender is. As Tambay mentioned in his write up, I really wonder how one of the latter scenes in the story, when Patsey (a young woman slave who Epps keeps as a mistres) is severely whipped, will be treated. It’s described as horrifically as you can possibly imagine.

As for the rest of the cast, we also announced earlier this month that Adepero Oduye, Ruth Negga, Paul Dano and Scott McNairy have officially joined the project. As previously discussed and pre-determined among some of us, Adepero will most likely play Patsey. BUT, she could also play Eliza, a slave woman whose 2 children are sold - an overwhelmingly sad, sad development in the narrative. It’s a highly emotional role for whomever is chosen to play it; I kept picturing actresses like Kimberly Elise or Anika Noni Rose as Eliza, but I'm no casting director.

We know British actress Ruth Negga will play a runaway slave. That character, a woman who encounters Northup while hiding in the woods, is described in the script as having very fair skin, with barely recognizable African features; so her casting makes sense.

The role left to cast is that of Solomon’s wife, Anne. She’s described in the script as lighter than Solomon. How light? It doesn’t say folks; I imagine, noticeably, perhaps. It’s a minor part, still important though. I could see someone like Tessa Thompson, or even Nicole Beharie in the role (I know, I know; she doesn’t really fit the lighter description). It looks like the role is still up for grabs; with shooting commencing next month, we should find out any day now.

There’s still another even less prominent role; it’s that of a Black slave woman - a very compelling, and even risqué part. And no, it has nothing to do with a white man; but I just can’t give you any more than that, without spoiling the film.

And speaking of Black slave women and White masters, and the sexual exploitation of the former, the script is devoid of any gratuitous sexual violence. Besides a brief scene were Epps sexually assaults a reluctant, non-responsive Patsey, the script is devoid of rape or seemingly consensual sex.

In spite of comparisons, as you may have guessed, 12 Years A Slave is nothing like what we know of Django Unchained so far. And if you’re wondering how it compares to the American Playhouse 1984 TV movie, Solomon Northup’s Odyssey, well, it’s hardly anything like it. McQueen’s script is filled with uncompromising realism of a history some of us would rather not revisit.

You’re transported back in time, and you understand why Solomon makes the choices he makes; the script accomplishes this in order to give Solomon’s character a great balance between being subordinate in order to survive, yet rebellious and defiant in a passive aggressive way. And although Solomon is a seemingly non-emotive character, his survival strategy, his pain and inner turmoil are deeply understood amd felt.

The narrative in McQueen’s script took me on a journey of terror, heart-wrench, despair, and anger, but also of courage, strength, heartbreak, love, and ultimately, as cliché as it may sound, gave me a real appreciation for life and what we call freedom.
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Re: Twelve Years' a Slave

Post by Admin on Fri Jun 01, 2012 10:43 am


http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118054886?refCatId=13

Posted: Thu., May. 31, 2012, 6:56pm PT
Cumberbatch joins '12 Years a Slave'
'Sherlock' star to play plantation owner
By Justin Kroll
Cumberbatch

Cumberbatch
Benedict Cumberbatch, star of PBS skein "Sherlock," is set to join the cast of New Regency's "12 Years a Slave."

Steve McQueen is directing the pic starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender and Brad Pitt.

Based on Solomon Northrup's 1853 nonfiction tome, New Regency pic stars Ejiofor as the author, a free man kidnapped and sold into slavery. Cumberbatch will play a plantation owner who buys Ejiofor's character and is won over by his engineering skills.

McQueen co-wrote the script with John Ridley ("Red Tails"). Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner will produce for Plan B.

Production will start at the end of June, and CAA is arranging financing for the pic in addition to repping its U.S. rights.

Cumberbatch, repped by UTA and Conway Van Gelder Grant, has broken out recently in film with strong roles in Paramount's "Star Trek 2," Peter Jackson's "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" and HBO's "Parades End."
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Re: Twelve Years' a Slave

Post by Admin on Sat Jun 09, 2012 12:25 am

http://blogs.indiewire.com/shadowandact/06f11560-af46-11e1-bcc4-123138165f92

More Join Cast Of "12 Years A Slave" + We Now Know Who Will Play Edwin Epps
News by Tambay | June 5, 2012 4:02 PM

Speculate no more; after months, and several posts wondering what role Michael Fassbender would play in Steve McQueen's adaptation of Solomon Northup's 12 Years A Slave - specifically, whether he'll play the narrative's main "villain" the incredibly cruel plantation owner, Edwin Epps (who Northup spends a significant portion of his 12 years in bondage with) - we have our answer.

Based on today's casting news, I was able to determine that Fassbender will indeed play Epps in the film.

First, recall I said in my book-to-script write-up that I didn't immediately see Fassbender in the Epps role, if only because they just aren't a physically match; Epps is, as already noted in previous post, is described as middle-aged and, from Northup's description of him in the book, a large (more fat than muscle) intimidating man.

Of course McQueen might be taking some creative liberties with the part in casting Fassbender; either that or Fassbender will be putting on a bunch of weight.

In today's casting news, it was announced that Paul Giamatti and Sarah Paulson have joined the cast of the project, with Giamatti taking on the role of Freeman, who takes possession of the slaves when they arrive in New Orleans, and Paulson playing "Fassbender's jealous wife," the Variety report reads.

Now, as both Vanessa and I have noted in our individual write-ups of the film (my book-to-film report, and Vanessa's review of the actual script), the one character we know of who has a jealous wife is Edwin Epps... ie, Fassbender.

Epps is married, and his wife is aware of his infidelities with Patsey (one of his slaves), and for that reason, she routinely orders Patsey whipped. She hates Patsey and of course blames her for Epps' indiscretions, even though Patsey doesn't exactly have any say in the matter.

So, as far as I'm concerned, this is a solved "case."

It's one heck of a role for Fassbender. If he does his job, and is believable as Epps, you're not going to like him much after this, because Epps is almost as *evil* a plantation owner as you'll find in the history books. He's uneducated, ignorant, an alcoholic, and just a mean bastard. Add the fact that he's in a position of power, and you've got a lethal combo there.

Giamatti and Paulson join the already-cast Chiwetel Ejiofor, Ruth Negga, Adepero Oduye, Paul Dano, Benedict Cumberbatch, Scoot McNairy, Garret Dillahunt, and Brad Pitt.
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Re: Twelve Years' a Slave

Post by Admin on Sat Jun 23, 2012 5:54 pm

http://www.deadline.com/2012/06/boardwalk-empire%E2%80%99s-michael-kenneth-williams-joins-twelve-years-a-slave/

‘Boardwalk Empire’s Michael Kenneth Williams Joins ‘Twelve Years A Slave’
By DOMINIC PATTEN | Saturday June 23, 2012 @ 12:10pm PDT

Michael Kenneth Williams has been added to the cast of Twelve Years A Slave. The actor joins Michael Fassbender, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Brad Pitt in the Steve McQueen-directed film. Raising Hope‘s Garret Dillahunt, Paul Dano and SNL’s Taran Killam are also in Twelve Years. Williams, best known for playing Chalky White on HBO’s Boardwalk Empire and Omar Little on The Wire, will play “Robert,” a mutinous slave in Twelve Years. The film is an adaptation of Solomon Northup’s 1853 book about a free black man who is drugged and dragged to the South to be sold into slavery. New Regency is backing the film. River Road and Plan B are producing. Twelve Years A Slave is filming in New Orleans. Williams is repped by The Collective and attorney Elsa Ramo.
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Re: Twelve Years' a Slave

Post by Admin on Sat Sep 08, 2012 7:35 pm

http://blogs.indiewire.com/theplaylist/young-beasts-of-the-southern-wild-star-quvenzhane-wallis-joins-steve-mcqueens-twelve-years-a-slave-20120801

Young 'Beasts Of The Southern Wild' Star Quvenzhané Wallis Joins Steve McQueen's 'Twelve Years A Slave'
News
by Oliver Lyttelton
August 1, 2012 11:18 AM

Given the quality of "Hunger" and "Shame," it's no surprise that there's a long queue to work with director Steve McQueen, but even considering that, the cast he's put together for period epic "Twelve Years A Slave" is quite extraordinary. The film's led by one of the most exciting actors working today, Chiwetel Ejifor, who plays Solomon Northrup, a free man in the 1840s who was kidnapped and kept for the titular dozen years as a slave before escaping.

And the cast also includes McQueen's regular collaborator Michael Fassbender, megastar Brad Pitt, Scoot McNairy, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Giamatti, Paul Dano, Sarah Paulson, Garret Dillahunt, Ruth Negga, Taran Killam, Adepero Oduye, Alfre Woodard and Michael K. Williams, making it probably the single 2013 release that we're most excited about.

But McQueen isn't stopping there, as a set photo from the film uncovered by our Indiewire colleagues Shadow & Act reveals that he's also added one of the most talked-about actresses of the year so far to the film; albeit one who certainly isn't old enough to have seen either "Hunger" or "Shame" -- Quvenzhané Wallis, the young star of acclaimed indie hit "Beasts Of The Southern Wild." The photo reveals Wallis in costume with Ejiofor, and Shadow & Act, who've confirmed independently that Wallis is in the cast, suggest that she might be playing Northrup's daughter, although there are also reasons to believe it could be another role.

Wallis, who was only six years old when 'Beasts' was filmed (she's now eight), has received universal acclaim for her role in Benh Zeitlin's film, with many tipping her to become the youngest-ever Oscar nominee for her performance. And neatly, the new film will serve as something of a reunion for the young star, as her screen father in her debut, Dwight Henry, is also in the cast of "Twelve Years A Slave" -- the actor landed the part of 'Uncle Abram' a few weeks back.

It's unlikely to be a major role in the film, but it's exciting to see Wallis land something so exciting as her follow-up, and just as thrilling for McQueen's ludicrously talented cast to get even better. Filming is now underway, and this should be a major player in the 2014 Oscar race -- our money's on a Cannes debut for the film.
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Re: Twelve Years' a Slave

Post by Admin on Fri Sep 06, 2013 3:06 pm

http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/envelope/moviesnow/la-et-mn-12-years-a-slave-20130909,0,5794457.story?page=1

In '12 Years a Slave,' Steve McQueen juxtaposes beauty, brutality
Director Steve McQueen, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt discuss how the true story '12 Years a Slave' came to the screen.

Chiwetel Ejiofor stars as Solomon Northup, center, a freeman abducted and sold into bondage in "12 Years a Slave." (Francois Duhamel, Fox Searchlight / September 9, 2013)

By John Horn

September 6, 2013, 6:00 a.m.

TELLURIDE, Colo. — Many sequences in Steve McQueen's new movie, "12 Years a Slave" — the true story of a free black man kidnapped in 1841 and sold to Southern plantation owners — were emotionally exhausting to film. But the British director didn't fully appreciate how wrenching the shoot was for his actors until he was in the editing room, scrutinizing the footage of a rape scene.

Michael Fassbender, playing a particularly despicable slave owner named Edwin Epps, was violating his most prized cotton-picking possession, Patsey, played by newcomer Lupita Nyong'o. McQueen's camera was pressed close to Fassbender's face as the actor whipsawed between tenderness and violence, alternately cooing to and choking his victim.

At the end of the sequence, McQueen saw in the editing room, Fassbender crumpled. The actor, McQueen realized, had momentarily passed out.

"That's how focused he was in that scene, in that situation," McQueen said at the Telluride Film Festival, where the movie had its world premiere last week. "There was nothing left."

PHOTOS: Telluride Film Festival 2013

Opening in limited release Oct. 18 after playing at this weekend's Toronto International Film Festival, "12 Years a Slave" is as difficult to watch as it is lovely to behold. Starring London-born Chiwetel Ejiofor as the former freeman Solomon Northup, the movie received several standing ovations at Telluride and looks like a strong Oscar contender, as long as audiences can see its beauty amid the brutality.

"It is about beauty — those plantations are beautiful," said McQueen, whose first two features, "Hunger" and "Shame," were stark, haunting looks at difficult, dark subjects. "And the juxtaposition of what happens there."

Ejiofor's gripping performance is rooted in the reality of Northup's nightmarish tale, originally told in his 1853 memoir.

WATCH: Trailers from Telluride

Born in Minerva, N.Y., he was an educated musician and married father of two young children when he met a pair of promoters who said they intended to advance his violin playing in Washington, D.C. Instead, he was drugged, and when he awoke, held prisoner. Soon, he was shipped by boat to New Orleans, given a new name — Platt — sold for $1,000 and enslaved by a series of owners, culminating with Epps.

All that separated Solomon from freedom was pen and paper: If he were able to write and send a letter to the North, his hopeful thinking went, his family would quickly send for him, and he would be released. But even obtaining those instruments, as the opening minutes of the film make clear, was nearly impossible.

Slavery stories

"12 Years a Slave" arrives as a new wave of filmmakers and authors is wrestling with and reexamining that painful chapter in U.S. history. Quentin Tarantino's "Django Unchained" cast Jamie Foxx and Christoph Waltz last year as a freed slave and a bounty hunter exacting vengeance throughout the South. And last month, James McBride published "The Good Lord Bird," an acclaimed novel about the abolitionist John Brown.

Though "12 Years a Slave" may seem like a quintessentially American story, McQueen and Ejiofor say the international pedigree of the cast and production (Fassbender is Irish-born, and Nyong'o was born in Mexico and raised in Kenya) is unremarkable. John Ridley, an African American screenwriter, adapted Northup's book, and Brad Pitt's production company was instrumental in bringing the project to life.

"It's international, really, as was slavery," said Ejiofor, whose parents are Nigerian. "We're artists — our nationalities don't matter," added McQueen, who is of Grenadian descent.

Pitt's production company, Plan B, became eager to work with McQueen after the 2008 release of "Hunger," a grim account of the 1980s hunger strike by IRA prisoner Bobby Sands (played by Fassbender). "We banged on his door, and we banged on his door again," Pitt said.

INTERACTIVE: From Toronto to the Oscars? Well...

Pitt and his partners Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner asked the filmmaker, then not even 40, what he wanted to do next. McQueen was about to make his sexual addiction drama "Shame," also starring Fassbender, but was eager to follow that with a film about slavery.

"He said, 'Why have there been 57 movies about the Holocaust, but there's hardly been a movie about this?'" Pitt recalled. Gardner replied to McQueen: "We don't know. But why don't we try?"

McQueen was interested in following a character's journey from freedom into slavery rather than telling a more conventional liberation tale. "The notion of someone who had his freedom taken away was always more compelling to him," Gardner said.

The source of such a tale proved elusive, though, until McQueen became acquainted with Solomon Northup's memoir, which was published just months after abolitionist Harriet Beecher Stowe's novel "Uncle Tom's Cabin."

WATCH: Trailers from Toronto

Though hardly as influential as the bestselling "Uncle Tom's Cabin," the memoir helped shape the anti-slavery debate. However, it went out of print for decades and was little-known until an academic from Louisiana, Sue Eakin, brought attention to it in the 1960s.

"It was very difficult to get the book," McQueen said. "But as soon as I put it in my hands, I couldn't put it down. It's a firsthand account, just like 'The Diary of Anne Frank,' but 100 years earlier. I said, 'This is the movie I want to make.'"

The appeal of the 229-page book, which is now widely available and taught in some Southern high schools, was obvious.

Though told dispassionately, the memoir overflows with vivid incidents — families ripped apart at auctions, attempted escapes, beatings, hangings and whippings. Repeatedly, Solomon must hide his intelligence from his masters, lest it be used against him. And yet his intellect compels him to strike back at one overseer (played in the film by Paul Dano), as his well-founded sense of righteousness is not initially tempered by the reality of his predicament.

PHOTOS: Venice Film Festival 2013

In adapting Northup's book, Ridley ("Red Tails," "Three Kings") and McQueen invented hardly anything, compressing some early scenes and then selecting from a litany of horrors the most powerful material. The film gives Patsey a more prominent role and makes her flogging the centerpiece of the film's conclusion.

And yet, as the autobiography's title makes clear, Solomon's captivity eventually comes to an end — thanks to an itinerant Canadian carpenter named Bass (played by Pitt) who considers slavery "all wrong, all wrong" and is willing to take a great risk on Solomon's behalf so that justice might be done.

"We think it's something we've dealt with and debated — we fought a war over it," Pitt said. "But it's not until reading Solomon's story that you really understand what it is to take someone's freedom and tear apart a family. It illustrates man's inhumanity to man, but it also reminds us of our responsibility to each other."

True intensity

When McQueen first asked Ejiofor to play the lead role, the veteran of "Children of Men" and "Dirty Pretty Things" demurred. After reading the screenplay, the actor felt he needed some time to consider what he would be undertaking.

"It was too soon," Ejiofor, 36, said. "I needed to take a moment to think of what it would involve. In order to play that part, I knew where I would have to get to — to do Solomon justice — where you could feel, even for a moment, the total absence of humanity, of that pain and sorrow and sadness."

Some 24 hours later, he told the director he would be his Solomon.

Having worked with McQueen before, Fassbender was prepared to take Epps into some dark and disturbing places, and the actor searched for tiny tethers of empathy to keep the sadistic character from disappearing into complete evil.

In short, Fassbender plays Epps as someone overwhelmed by his circumstances, an unjust man who also sees his situation as unfair.

WATCH: Trailers from Venice

"I tried not to make him too evil — I tried to find a human being there," Fassbender said. "It's very clear that he is falling in love with Patsey. He loves her spirit, he loves her physically — he just finds her very impressive. And he's envious of Solomon. There's something unnerving about him. There's something out of the ordinary, but he can't put his thumb on it."

Filming on the $22-million production took place in Louisiana last summer, and the first day brought oppressive humidity and temperatures that reached 108 degrees.

"We were out there in the field, picking cotton — it was out of this world," Ejiofor said of the heat. "You get a very visceral realization of what people were going through. We were lucky in a way that that was our first day, because it put us in the right mind-set."

That mind-set was an extraordinary combination of splendor and sorrow.

McQueen and cinematographer Sean Bobbitt, who shot "Hunger" and "Shame," framed their actors in the Southern locations as if they were formally composing portraits. "It may not be pretty," said Ejiofor, "but it is beautiful."

PHOTOS: Fall movie sneaks 2013

Nevertheless, McQueen didn't intend to make "12 Years a Slave" easy viewing. So that the audience can't avert its eyes or take a breath, he shot an extended whipping scene in a single take of more than four minutes, adding through visual effects grisly mists of flesh coming off the victim's back.

And in editing the film, McQueen recast the film's opening act, so that Solomon begins the film in hopeless captivity, rather than as an untroubled freeman. "You need to throw the audience into the deep end," the director said.

Given the subject matter, McQueen and the film's producers tried to create a set that was both reverent and relaxed. "I think the camaraderie is key — we had lots of fun together — because of what we had the next day in shooting," McQueen said.

Even though they were telling a tale based on actual events, the cast and crew were at times caught off guard by reminders of what had unfolded on the very land on which they were filming.

In the shadows of one tree used for a "12 Years a Slave" lynching scene, the filmmakers found the graves of real runaways who had been hanged at that very spot more than a century before.

"To be sure," said McQueen, "we were dancing with ghosts."

john.horn@latimes.com
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Re: Twelve Years' a Slave

Post by Admin on Mon Sep 09, 2013 12:13 am

http://www.buzzfeed.com/adambvary/12-years-a-slave-screenwriter-john-ridley-thinks-we-worry-to

“12 Years A Slave” Screenwriter John Ridley Thinks We Worry Too Much About Racist Trolls

“To me, you walk around with a Klan hat on or you’ve got a swastika on your arm, you just look like a dope, you know what I mean?” posted on September 8, 2013 at 6:32pm EDT
Adam B. Vary BuzzFeed Staff

John Ridley


TORONTO — John Ridley strides into a local Canadian coffee shop with an iPad mini in hand and a face that seems both deeply content and utterly spent. The night before, 12 Years a Slave — which Ridley adapted for director Steve McQueen from the real-life memoir of Solomon Northup, a free black man who was kidnapped into slavery in 1841 — had its gala premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival to a rapturous reception (and breathless reviews). And in a few hours, he was due to walk the red carpet for the gala premiere of All is By My Side, a biopic about the early years of famed 1960s rock star Jimi Hendrix (played by André Benjamin) that Ridley wrote and directed. As Hollywood fate would have it, not only are both films screening at TIFF, they both shot at the same time, with Ridley directing Benjamin in Dublin, Ireland during the day, and then sending re-writes on 12 Years a Slave back to McQueen in Louisiana at night. “It really was a time you dream about,” says Ridley with a smile.

The twin debuts are the culmination of a peripatetic showbiz career, spanning sitcoms (The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air), TV dramas (Third Watch), feature screenplays both dark and moody (U Turn) and light and goofy (Undercover Brother), novels, stage plays, and a gig as the head writer for the short-lived late night Fox talk show The Wanda Sykes Show. Ridley wrote 12 Years a Slave on spec for McQueen after they both agreed it was well past time for a major feature film about the experience of being a slave in the American south. And as I learned over the course of our conversation, the process was as much a watershed experience for Ridley as the film has proven to be for many festivalgoers in Toronto.

Alfre Woodard, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Lupita Nyong’o, director Steve McQueen, and Sarah Paulson at a Toronto Film Festival press event for 12 Years a Slave George Pimentel / WireImage / Getty Images

How have you been handling the response to the film?
John Ridley: It’s odd, because I think under different circumstances with a different film, there might be a little be more sense of pure enjoyment with it. I think with this, for me personally, from the time I got the memoir and was able to read it, you feel a sense of responsibility. My wife has friends who want to go and say, “I can’t wait to see it, I’m excited to see it.” On the one hand, that’s great. On the other hand, you’ve got to be ready for something that is really powerful, that is going to stay with you, that is going to haunt you. I don’t know that any one piece of material is going to change lives, but at the very least, [this film can] give an individual perspective about for us in America, where we came from, and where we are, and truly how we got there, and how we got there in a few generations — that’s the amazing part.

Do you feel the reactions have been too much, too soon?
On a level of somebody who’s been working on this for four years, no. Finally people get to see it, no matter how they react! There are going to be some really wonderful films coming out the rest of this year. But as you get into this time period and it becomes about a particular kind of film that those of us in film are expecting, just forget about my contribution, on a particular level, can you imagine something more powerful, more beautiful, more important without being self-important, that will come along this year? If that film comes, then God bless it for coming along, because it’s been a really great year of film.

So this movie completely destroyed me, but that was just over the course of its two-hour running time. You spent four years with it. What was it like to be inside this story for that long?
There’s the memoir, but there was a lot of education [for me] around it. For an American who considers himself versed in history, you think you know things about history. The thing I really learned was the evolution of slavery in America, that it wasn’t here fully-formed, the way we always believed it to be. It really went from indentured servitude, to slavery, to slavery predicated on the concept of racial inferiority. To me, that’s where it got painful, in the sense that we as a nation allowed ourselves to really get suckered into these calcified ideas about race and about other people. You look at things that happen now in America, and you think, well, gosh, we’re smart people, why do we have such a difficult time getting over race? It’s because it’s been such a part of our culture, perhaps longer than any other country. Up through the 1890s and even through the civil rights era, that was the law of the land. That was painful to me.

You look at this one moment in time — and I do not want to compare any tragedies — but you look at what’s going on in Syria, and we as a world go, “This needs to stop.” We know somebody should be doing something. It’s good that we’re that cognizant. You look at hundreds of years that slavery went on and allowed to go on, that’s really painful. There free black Americans prior to slavery that had freedoms, and they were torn away from them. That was painful.

Chiwetel Ejiofor in 12 Years a Slave Fox Searchlight

How did you land on this particular story of Solomon Northup? Were you familiar with it at all?
No. The first time we sat down, Steve said, “I want to do a story like this.” Very much like this, in terms of the kind of character Solomon was — the fact that he had station, the fact that he had artistic ability, the fact that he was respected and lost that respect. We went back and forth on different aspects of history, and real life stories, or taking several stories and blending them together.

But we didn’t know about this book. It’s perhaps more forgivable for Steve, not being an American, but for me, when his wife gave it to him, and he gave to me, and I read it, it was like, Why don’t I know about this? This wasn’t taught in school. This wasn’t something that was widely talked about. Why not?

Landing on this material was not something we were driven towards — it was happenstance to a degree. Once we landed on it, we both knew that this was the story to be told. Partly because it was so true. There were all these ideas that maybe were of interest to both of us, but this had everything in it. It was honest, and it became an effort to maintain that honesty.

As you were developing this with Steve, knowing that there are almost no major feature films that are about the slave experience, did you ever feel the weight of trying to capture and represent it all?
There was going into it, in all the research, moments where I felt like, God, I wish I could bring this in or I wish I could talk about this. There comes a moment when you’re writing a script just on a fundamental level where you can’t turn in 180 pages, let alone film that. At some point, you’re going to get down to what that story is. I think the thing that worked so well in regards to trying to present a lot of things was just Solomon’s story himself. A lot of people don’t really think of, Oh, there were free blacks. Free blacks, not even freed, individuals who were born free under the law, who were respected in the community, who had opportunities. And then to have that freedom taken away.

For me, you look at the title 12 Years a Slave, and there are really two ways of looking at it. You look at it as truly a slave narrative, or, semantically, it’s also about a free man who lost those freedoms for 12 years out of an otherwise — at least in that time frame — full life. So at some point I looked at it really as not just a slave narrative. It’s a narrative of a free individual, anybody, who then has these freedoms taken away.

People very casually in 2013, just throw around, “Oh, my freedoms are being taken away” — it doesn’t matter, left or right side of the [political] spectrum. You hear it all the time. I truly wanted people to understand, if you’re going to say that, this is what it is like to have your freedom taken away. When you walk out of this story, if you [complain] about getting health care or metadata being intruded upon, however you feel about them is how you feel about them. But what Solomon went through, what tens of millions of Americans went through, that is having your freedom taken away.

So maybe we couldn’t get to everything, but that’s the core of what we wanted to express.

Your director and the bulk of your cast are not American, especially the main storytellers. How did that affect your experience?
It certainly didn’t affect my writing. People have asked that question, and it is a curiosity. On one level, as Steve has said, it’s fantastic that anyone, anywhere would want to examine our culture and speak to it. For me, Solomon Northup was an American. And this whole thing starts and ends with his experience and what he wrote. The things he was talking about — his faith in family, his faith in something larger than himself, his faith in the system and his desire for the right of self-determination — is not limited by the nation of origin of your passport. If it takes other people to go through the dustbin of American history and find this document, hold it up and say, “Hey, why are you all not paying attention to this?” — I’m happy to have been part of that examination.

Concurrently, do you think the fact that you and Steve McQueen are black is important?
I will defer to the fact that this is so powerful that anyone with any bit of ability could have come in. To me, it’s not so much about a white person could never understand this. You look at the history of Norman Jewison and In the Heat of the Night, or movies like Glory, or even up to 42, clearly white people can talk and tell our stories and do things that are powerful and impactful.

To me, the problem becomes, historically in Hollywood, people of color have been limited to our own stories. I don’t say this to pick on any one film, but when you have in later years a film like The Help, there are amazing parts [for black people] in front of the camera, but those parts behind the camera start to be eroded. We’re not going to get offered, say, Star Trek or Iron Man. So then, what do we have left? That’s my problem.

You look at Ang Lee who tells a great narrative about a near Eastern individual [in Life of Pi], written by a white writer [David Magee], it all worked beautifully. Anybody has the capacity to tell a great story. Just as a bit of commerce, I think it becomes difficult, because for us, for people of color, there aren’t always those other opportunities to balance out for those moments that may be lost because other individuals do come in and tell these phenomenal stories that revolve around our history.

youtube.com

Any time pretty much anything addresses race directly, some real ugliness almost rises up to it. Are you prepared for that?
As an individual, and I have to say as a person of color, the thing about being an “Other” in America is I really feel like you’re bilingual. I’m from a small town in Wisconsin, but even when I’m in New York and I’m working for MSNBC or CNN, you’re used to being the only black person in the room. You spend your life in this space where you’re constantly seeing people who don’t even know perhaps they’re being a little dismissive of people of color, let alone the ugliness that you hear on a daily basis. So at times when people say that [racism] is bubbling up, it’s just bubbling up to a level where they’re aware of it.

For me, when you look at where we are and what it takes now in 2013 to get those things to bubble up — if the worst that will most likely happen is that some individual who refuses to put their name on [an internet] thread is going to say something nasty? I say, fine, if that is your true color. I will use the word: People freak out about the word “nigger.” I hear so many more horrible things said about people on a daily basis than that word, and if we’ve gotten to a point in America where we’re so sensitive about that word, then we’re nearing the end of our worries about that, you know what I’m saying?

It sounds like at least in part from your research on this film and the institution of slavery in general, you have developed a certain perspective on how we in 2013 relate to each other about race that is not perhaps as alarmist as so much of the culture seems to be.
I’m don’t think I’m alarmist. I’m more disappointed by the euphemisms in some instances than outright bigotry. Now, to me, you walk around with a Klan hat on or you’ve got a swastika on you arm, you just look like a dope, you know what I mean? It’s not that these people aren’t capable of bad things. They are. It’s not that we should not be aware of the bad things that still happen. There are dangerous people who want to do bad things. We can’t get to the point where we treat it as being frivolous. But, like, the Paula Deen thing. I’m like, really? Forget about her being an old Southern white woman. Somebody said something dopey about somebody else? I do think I do have a bit more perspective because I have read these things [about slavery]. I don’t get joy when I hear people saying horrible things in any regard, but I do look at efforts in the last election to race bait, and they failed so miserably, and alienated so many people, and opened the door in an election that could have easily gone another way had it just really been about ideas and policy.

So there’s a level to me where the consternation about the dopes — I mean, that’s all that’s left now, are just dopes. People will sit in a dark room and say it. That’s very different than the people who take to the streets. I think about what my father had to go through. I’m John the Fourth, so I think there’s a lot of things in life that have been truly handed to me by the hard work and the pain of others. I think about what they went through when somebody’s going to blog about they don’t like what I did? That’s the least of it. If people gotta take time out of their day [to write], “I hated 12 Years a Slave! Why are they doing another slave movie!” — you took time out of your day to pay attention to what I did. Thank you! Thank you very much!
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Re: Twelve Years' a Slave

Post by Admin on Mon Sep 09, 2013 12:17 am

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2415405/12-Years-Slave-Audiences-gasp-walk-Oscar-tipped-film-giving-ovation.html

Executions, murders and graphic floggings on screen: But will controversial slavery film that prompted viewers to walk out go on to take top spot at the Oscars?

By Rebecca Seales

PUBLISHED: 08:22 EST, 8 September 2013 | UPDATED: 22:32 EST, 8 September 2013

In 2012, audiences were shocked by the graphic violence and gore featured in Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained, the story of a freed slave who sets out to rescue his wife from a brutal plantation owner.

Now British-born director Steve McQueen, who won critical praise for Shame (2011), and its unflinching look at sex addiction, is dividing viewers with a new film about the horrors of slavery.

The movie, 12 Years a Slave, is adapted from Solomon Northup's memoir of the same name, which recounts his harrowing experiences after being separated from his family and sold into bondage.

'This is a very rare film,' Brad Pitt at 12 Years a Slave...

Northup, born a free African American, was taken prisoner in 1841 by so-called circus owners who lured him with a fake job offer.

He was drugged, then transported to New Orleans, and sold as a slave to a plantation owner from Louisiana.

The film, which will hit screens in October, stars Chiwetel Ejiofor as Northup. The all-star cast also includes Benedict Cumberbatch as Northup's first master, and Michael Fassbender on horrifying form as his second. Brad Pitt, who also notched up a production credit, features as a grizzled abolitionist.

It caused a sensation at the Toronto Film Festival this weekend when some viewers were so shocked that they left the screening - but others were moved to tears and gave the film a 10-minute standing ovation.

Ejiofor, who is already being tipped for an Oscar, says the film's darkness is integral to its sombre subject matter - and points to the goodness at its heart.

'Solomon's story is full of [violence] but also full of beauty and hope and human respect and dignity,' he told The Independent on Sunday.

'With [director] Steve there to guide it, we weren't afraid to explore all that, and go to those dark places.'

To get to the heart of Northup's agony, McQueen aims to convey the monstrous indignity and injustice of slavery. In one bloody scene, the protagonist is beaten 15 times with a bat before being whipped by his captors.

Slaves are shown being hanged, murdered and lashed - including by each other, on their masters' orders.

Critics expect the bold film to score Oscar nominations in multiple categories, including Best Picture.

Director Steve McQueen (left) elicits great commitment from his cast, but some viewers have winced at his film's brutal scenes. Michael Fassbender (right) gives a powerful performance as a cruel plantation owner.

British actor Ejiofor is seen as a dead cert for a best actor nod, while McQueen could be up for best director and Michael Fassbender for best supporting actor.

Beautiful Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong'o has also impressed critics with her role as a cotton picker brutalised by her master.

McQueen told audiences at Toronto Film Festival he was driven by a desire to depict the truth about pre-abolition America.

'I wanted to see that story on film,' he said. 'It's that simple.'

McQueen compared his source, Northup's book, to The Diaries of Anne Frank, saying: 'I was upset with myself that I didn't know this book and then I realised no one I knew knew about it. No one.

'As soon as [my wife] put it in my hand I didn't let it go, it was just remarkable. I had an idea and then you see it in your hand as a book. Amazing.'

Addressing comparisons to Tarantino's Django, the director said the timing of the two films was a coincide.

Beautiful Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong'o (left) impressed critics with her role as a cotton picker, while Sarah Paulson (right) plays the jealous wife of the plantation owner who becomes sexually obsessed with her.

Actor Brad Pitt poses for photographs on the red carpet at the gala for the new movie
Actor Benedict Cumberbatch arrives for the film screening of

Pictured at the Toronto premiere, Brad Pitt (left) plays an abolitionist in the film, while Benedict Cumberbatch (right) takes the role of Solomon Northup's first slave owner.

Addressing comparisons to Tarantino's Django, the director said the timing of the two films was a coincide.

He recalled bumping into Tarantino recently, saying: 'He said, "I hope that it's okay to have more than one slavery film."

'I said, "Of course, it's like having more than one gangster movie or having more than one western."

'They're two different movies about slavery.'
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Re: Twelve Years' a Slave

Post by Admin on Fri Sep 13, 2013 4:23 pm

http://www.filmthrasher.com/2013/09/the-news-bundle-new-international_11.html


THE NEWS BUNDLE: New International Poster for '12 Years A Slave' Boasts Its Cast With A Rather Simple Design

Exiting its festival run where it has gained massive acclaim and positioned itself as a top awards season contender, 12 Years A Slave has only one month remaining before it hits theaters. A star-studded effort with at least one performance sure to gain a nod or two, there is still plenty of marketing to come ahead of its theatrical bow. Now, a new international poster has arrived presenting a more artistic one-sheet for the upcoming release.

Based on a true story, 12 Years A Slave is a riveting account of a free black man kidnapped from New York and sold into brutal slavery in mid-1850s Louisiana, and the inspiring story of his desperate struggle to return home to his family.

Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), an educated black man with a gift for music, lives with his wife and children in Saratoga, New York. One day, when his family is out of town, he is approached by two men claiming to be circus promoters. Solomon agrees to travel with them briefly, playing the fiddle while they perform. But after sharing a drink with the men, he awakens to find he has been drugged and bound and faces a horrifying reality: he is being shipped to the South as a slave.

No one listens to Solomon’s claim that he has papers proving his status as a free man. Despairing, he plots his escape, only to be foiled at every turn. He is sold to William Ford (Benedict Cumberbatch), a kindly mill owner who appreciates Solomon’s thoughtful nature. But Ford is forced to sell him to a cruel master who subjects him and other slaves to unspeakable brutality. For years, Solomon nurtures his dreams of returning home. He stashes slips of stolen paper in his fiddle and develops a natural ink with which to write a letter. But when his greatest efforts come to nothing, he realizes just how trapped he is. Even if he could write the letter without being caught, where would he send it? Whom could he trust to deliver it? And will he even survive long enough to be rescued?

Refusing to abandon hope, Solomon watches helplessly as those around him succumb to violence, crushing emotional abuse and hopelessness. He realizes that he will have to take incredible risks, and depend on the most unlikely people, if he is ever to regain his freedom and be reunited with his family.

Co-starring Quvenzhane Wallis, Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt, Paul Giamatti, Paul Dano, Garret Dillahunt, Scoot McNairy, Sarah Paulson, Michael K. Williams and many more, 12 Years A Slave hits theaters on October 18th.

Click on the poster or a larger look (via IMP):
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Re: Twelve Years' a Slave

Post by Admin on Thu Sep 19, 2013 10:19 pm

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/john-singleton-can-a-white-630127

John Singleton: Can a White Director Make a Great Black Movie? (Guest Column)
6:00 AM PDT 9/19/2013 by John Singleton

Issue 33 John Singleton Inset - H 2013
"42", John Singleton
"42" and "The Help" had white helmers; "The Butler" and "12 Years a Slave" didn't. The Oscar-nominated director questions the studios' motives in telling black stories with scant African-American input: "It's as if the studios are saying, 'We want it black, just not that black.' "

This story first appeared in the Sept. 27 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
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Whenever a black-themed film comes out, I get the call. And even more stops on the street. "Yo, man. What did you think of that flick?" The truth is, I wish folks would ask me what I think of some general releases. (My two favorite movies of the summer were comedies: Seth Rogen's This Is the End and Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine.) But, hey, I guess commenting on all things black is my lot in life, being that I'm a recognizable African-American face in an industry that isn't exactly the gold standard when it comes to diversity.

Like everything else in Hollywood, though, black films tend to come in waves, and by some standards 2013 is turning into a banner year. Nearly a dozen black movies will be released before it's over. And with awards season just around the corner, three indie flicks are right in the mix: Ryan Coogler's remarkable and unquestionably authentic debut, Fruitvale Station; my friend Lee Daniels' The Butler, which has drawn a diverse crowd and topped the box office three weeks in a row; and the film everyone is waiting for, Steve McQueen's 12 Years a Slave.

PHOTOS: 'Lee Daniels' The Butler' Premiere: Oprah, Forest Whitaker and Anna Wintour Walk the Red Carpet

Hollywood's black film community has always had a one-for-all-and-all-for-one attitude, openly cheering the success of any black-driven movie in the hope its box-office success will translate into more jobs and stories about people of color. But, at the same time, the success of black-themed movies like The Help and this year's 42 points to a troubling trend: the hiring of white filmmakers to tell black stories with few African-Americans involved in the creative process.

The good news first: The Butler, a period drama inspired by a real-life White House butler, has grossed $100 million domestically to date. I'm sure more than a few studio execs checking Labor Day weekend grosses did a Buckwheat double take, like "What wuz dat?" -- and that's not racist, 'cause I'm black and I can say that.

While 12 Years a Slave doesn't open until Oct. 18, I've seen it and can tell you it's a work of art. McQueen, who is black and from the U.K., has created a raw, unflinching look at a black man's descent into one of the darkest chapters of American history. It's as authentic as it gets. And there should be Oscar nods for McQueen; screenwriter John Ridley; lead actor Chiwetel Ejiofor, who gives the performance of a lifetime; and, hopefully, Michael Fassbender, who plays the most compelling big-screen villain this year. (It should be noted 12 Years a Slave would not have seen the light of day if not for Brad Pitt, who produced the film and has a small but crucial role in it. There are few stars as big-hearted as Pitt with an interest in exploring challenging subjects. More should definitely follow his bold example.)

This past spring also saw the release of 42, which was written and directed by Brian Helgeland. I took my whole family to the theater and was happy to see that Jackie Robinson's inspiring story was well told. Newcomer Chadwick Boseman stepped up to the challenge of portraying Jackie, who seemed to carry the weight of an entire race on his shoulders.

STORY: Toronto: Audience Award Win Solidifies '12 Years a Slave' as Film to Beat in Oscar Race (Analysis)

And I was delighted to see my childhood hero Harrison Ford in an underrated character performance as Branch Rickey. For me, Helgeland -- with support from Jackie's widow, Rachel Robinson, who served as a consultant, and black producer Darryl Pryor -- hit it out of the park. 42 wasn't overly moralistic and didn't sugarcoat the hardships Robinson endured on and off the field while integrating Major League Baseball.

Yet I couldn't help but wonder how different Spike Lee's version of Jackie's story would've been had he gotten the financing to direct his planned biopic years ago when he had Denzel Washington attached to star. Lee envisioned going beyond Robinson's exploits on the diamond and dramatizing his later years as a businessman, prominent Republican and figurehead for racial equality.

One could argue that Lee couldn't get his film made and Helgeland did, end of the story. But hold up. There's more to it. What if the commercial success of "black films" like 42 and The Help, which also had a white director, are now making it harder rather than easier for African-American writers and directors to find work?

That is exactly what people in certain Hollywood circles are debating. When I brought up the issue with a screenwriter friend, he replied, "It's simple. Hollywood feels like it doesn't need us anymore to tell African-American stories." The thinking goes, "We voted for and gave money to Obama, so [we don't need to] hire any black people."

Just to be clear, there are several white filmmakers who have told black stories and gotten it right. Norman Jewison -- who made In the Heat of the Night, A Soldier's Story and The Hurricane -- is Canadian, with no direct ties to black American culture. But he is a socially conscious renegade who tells stories with great care and sensitivity, and those works, in particular, are phenomenal. And Taylor Hackford did an amazing job with his Ray Charles biopic Ray, which he co-wrote with James L. White. It was a story close to his heart, earning him an Oscar nom for directing and winning a best actor award for Jamie Foxx. Another classic.

I could go on and on about the white directors who got it right and others who missed the mark. But my larger point is that there was a time, albeit very brief, when heroic black figures were the domain of black directors, and when a black director wasn't hired, the people behind the film at least brought on a black producer for his or her creative input and perspective. Spielberg did that on The Color Purple (Quincy Jones) and Amistad (Debbie Allen). Tarantino had Reggie Hudlin on Django Unchained.

STORY: Toronto: 'Butler' Producer Cassian Elwes on Breaking Racial Boundaries (Q&A)

But now, that's changing; several black-themed movies are in development with only white filmmakers attached, including a James Brown biopic. That's right, the story of "Soul Brother No. 1, Mr. Say It Loud, I'm Black and I'm Proud" is being penned by two Brits for Tate Taylor, director of The Help.

A compelling argument can be made that Brian Grazer, the project's primary producer, has had multiple successes with black talent such as Eddie Murphy and Denzel. And Mick Jagger also is involved, and the Brits tend to have a greater appreciation for African-American creative culture than most white Americans.

Still, it gives one pause that someone is making a movie about the icon who laid down the foundation of funk, hip-hop and black economic self-reliance with no African-American involvement behind the scenes. One of Brown's most famous lines was, "I don't want nobody to give me nothing; open up the door and I'll get it myself." How is that possible when the gatekeepers of this business keep the doors mostly locked shut in Hollywood?

In the black film community, the consensus is that we're entering a new era of "Al Jolson movies." Jolson, for the uninitiated, was the star of the first "talkie," The Jazz Singer in 1927, and is best known for donning blackface and singing "Mammy." He is an apt symbol for what slowly is becoming the norm in Hollywood. Even when there are black directors or writers involved, some of the films made today seem like they're sifted of soul. It's as if the studios are saying, "We want it black, just not that black."

Audiences, though, can smell what's real and what isn't. And there is a noticeable difference between pictures that have significant contributions from African-Americans behind the scenes and those that don't. That's why I can fully relate to the disappointment some friends feel upon hearing about producers holding meetings on black-themed movies without even noticing that no one in the room speaks the language or intimately understands that world.

REVIEW: '12 Years a Slave'

There are cultural nuances and unspoken, but deep-seated emotions that help define the black American experience. The rhythm and cadence in which we carry ourselves among one another is totally alien to most non-blacks, even if it is a constant fascination to them.

Some in the black film community think that Hollywood needs to pass a Rooney Rule like the NFL, which requires teams to interview a minority candidate when looking to fill a head-coaching position. But that'll never fly. In many ways, The Help's $170 million domestic box office set a new paradigm for how Hollywood wants its black pictures: uplifting, sentimental and inoffensive. It's no one individual filmmaker's fault. It reflects the latent racism that influences what gets made and what doesn't in the studio system.

What Hollywood execs need to realize is that black-themed stories appeal to the mainstream because they are uniquely American. Our story reminds audiences of struggles and triumphs, dreams and aspirations we all share. And it is only by conveying the particulars of African-American life that our narrative become universal. But making black movies without real participation by black filmmakers is tantamount to cooking a pot of gumbo without the "roux." And if you don't know offhand what "roux" is, you shouldn't be making a black film.

When he was nominated for the best director Oscar in 1992 for his first feature Boyz n the Hood, Singleton became the youngest person and first African-American nominated in that category. His subsequent films include 2 Fast 2 Furious, Shaft and Four Brothers.
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Re: Twelve Years' a Slave

Post by Admin on Thu Oct 03, 2013 6:31 pm

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/brad-pitt-12-years-a-639856

How a Brad Pitt Mantra, 'Game On, F---ers!,' Fueled His Oscar Contender '12 Years a Slave'
9:16 AM PDT 10/2/2013 by Stephen Galloway

[1]Issue 35 Brad Pitt 12 Years Cover - P 2013
Miller Mobley
The Plan B star-producer reveals the stomach-churning drama that had his team remaking "World War Z" while developing "Slave," as negative whispers and doubt abounded. Says his partner, Dede Gardner: "It's still hard for me to talk about, to be totally honest."

This story first appeared in the Oct. 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter [2] magazine.

On the morning of Aug. 30, a nervous Brad Pitt boarded a private plane in Los Angeles for the hourlong journey to Telluride, Colo., where his company's new film, 12 Years a Slave, was about to debut.

Bringing Slave to a close -- while dealing with the roller-coaster ride leading to his June release, World War Z -- had left the star and partners Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner exhausted, uncertain and at times publicly vilified.

PHOTOS: Exclusive Portraits of Brad Pitt and His '12 Years a Slave' Stars [13]

The three had worked together intimately for more than a decade, but they never had endured a year like this. The negative reports about Z had been constant, including a Vanity Fair article that implied its producers didn't know what they were doing. One Wall Street analyst, Cowen and Co.'s Doug Creutz, had even predicted doom before the $170 million-to-$200 million zombie thriller opened, estimating it would take in a mere $85 million and calling it a "likely candidate for a big write-down."

Pitt, rather than giving in to his critics, dug in his heels and thought, "Game on, f---ers." But Gardner, 45, a thoughtful executive who had cut her teeth at Paramount during the Sherry Lansing regime before joining Pitt's Plan B Entertainment in 2003, found the whole experience far more painful.

"It's still hard for me to talk about, to be totally honest," she says. "The criticism resonated with me on several different levels. There's the purely professional level, which involves feeling acute responsibility for this film and the investment these people made in it. Then there's the more personal concern: 'How have I failed? Have I failed?' And I was disappointed by the absence of comrades or just people reaching out and saying, 'Hang in there. It's gonna be OK.' "

Despite Z's success (it would go on to earn $539 million globally), an air of uncertainty hung over Plan B. It had gained a reputation for artiness in a town where that was something of a dirty word. Several of its best-known movies had been critical hits but commercial disappointments, including 2007's The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and 2012's Killing Them Softly. Now insiders were grumbling that Plan B was being coddled by Brad Grey, the powerful Paramount Pictures chairman who had launched the production outfit with Pitt and his then-wife Jennifer Aniston a decade earlier and who helped maintain it through a first-look deal with his studio.

Given all this, the fact that Pitt, 49, was about to present a bleak period piece about a real-life 19th century black man kidnapped from New York and sold into slavery hardly seemed cause for celebration; in fact, the only thing that looked good about Slave was its budget -- $16 million, or $4 million less than Paramount had spent on reshoots for Z.

All this was in the air as Pitt and Kleiner landed in Telluride, where they joined Gardner, who had driven in from her Wyoming vacation, for an early dinner at Cosmopolitan restaurant before they strolled to the Galaxy Theatre and waited anxiously for Slave to unspool.

PHOTOS: Brad Pitt's 10 Highest Grossing Movies [14]

The movie's triumph at Telluride, where it was met with an ovation before receiving a rapturous reception at Toronto, not only has positioned the film -- which opens Oct. 18 in limited release -- as a major Oscar contender, but it also has vindicated the work done by Pitt's small staff of seven for more than a decade.

Years after Hollywood cognoscenti dismissed Plan B as a "vanity deal," it has emerged from these festivals as a major force for some of the most challenging material around, Pitt's mandate when he started the company in 2002.

"From the outside looking in, it's easy to reduce this to, 'Here's a fabulously powerful A-list movie star who is now going to be a quote-unquote producer,' " says Damon Lindelof, who wrote a new ending for Z when the reshoots became necessary. "Whereas Plan B seems to be exactly the opposite: They are using their clout and Brad's notoriety to make movies that wouldn't be made otherwise."

Those movies have included Year of the Dog, The Tree of Life and Running With Scissors, though Plan B also has made more mainstream fare such as the Julia Roberts starrer Eat Pray Love, Kick-Ass and its sequel. (While Plan B was a producer on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The Departed, others handled most of the production chores.)

Now, helped by a blockbuster and an awards front-runner, the company is moving forward with a host of film projects and also is entering the television field with Resurrection, a supernatural drama that debuts on ABC in March.

Plan B also is developing a sequel to Z, which still is in its nascent stages, though director Marc Forster won't be back. "We are talking about it," says Pitt. "We are going to investigate a script. We have a lot of ideas we will cull from. Nobody is writing just yet, but we are compiling our ideas."

STORY: Toronto: '12 Years a Slave' Wins Audience Award [15]

Plan B came into being when Grey (then an owner of management company Brillstein-Grey Entertainment) approached Pitt about joining forces. The actor was in the early stages of creating his own production entity with Aniston.

"I decided I wanted to start focusing on producing movies," recalls Grey. "Brad had been trying to build a small company with Jennifer. I called Brad, who's an old friend, and he and I had a long talk, and I told him what I wanted to do with the company and said, 'We should really think of doing this together.' "

[pagebreak]

Pitt, whom Gardner calls a "lifelong cineaste," had wanted to move more actively into producing, aiming to make the type of films he always had admired. "I'm a fan of film first and was since I was a little boy sitting in Missouri," he notes. "I go back to One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and All the President's Men. And Dr. Strangelove is still the funniest film I have ever seen." As to more recent work, he adds: "There Will Be Blood is one of my absolute favorites; incredible, a whole film dedicated to someone's hatred."

At the time Grey approached him, Pitt was riding high with the blockbuster Ocean's Eleven, and he was being paid between $10 million and $15 million a picture. He and Aniston had been married since 2000; they were a golden couple whose relationship had yet to collapse.

The duo agreed to pool forces with Grey, and their incipient production outfits merged. It was Grey who came up with the Plan B moniker in recognition of his and his new partner's first initials.

STORY: Toronto: Why '12 Years a Slave' Wasn't at Venice [16]

With Warner Bros. committed to a first-look deal that would cover overhead and some development costs for projects including A Mighty Heart (later to be made at Paramount) and screenwriter Eric Roth's Hatfields & McCoys (still in the works), Grey and Pitt embarked on a search for executives to head the company. They landed on Kleiner, who had worked for Donner Shuler Donner and who joined Plan B as a junior executive in June 2003; and Gardner, who initially was refused an "out" on her Paramount contract but came on board later that year. The two currently serve as co-presidents.

Gardner soon found that Pitt "is tireless and very astute at identifying the ways in which a filmmaker's voice and intention are expressed -- and then protecting those things. Brad's also incredibly [aware of] how the business works, which is not to say he always agrees with its results. But he always gets the game."

Within months, however, his company was plunged into turmoil when Grey exited for Paramount, and Aniston and Pitt split, leaving Pitt the sole owner.

Gardner remembers her shock at hearing of Grey's late-2004 departure when she had just given birth. "Brad called at 10:30 at night, and he was on a plane coming home from Hawaii. I was asleep, and my mother took the message," she says. "And then I woke up an hour later and came downstairs to feed the baby, and she said: 'Brad Grey called. I told him you were asleep.' I just thought, 'Are you kidding me?' I said, 'Mom, it doesn't work that way.' "

Soon after, Gardner started getting calls from all over Hollywood warning that the company wouldn't last. "There was a lot of chatter about [the company folding]," she says.

STORY: Telluride Wrap: 'Gravity' and '12 Years A Slave' Among Potential Award Winners [17]

She and Kleiner, now 37, both were nervous about their future but decided to stay, especially when Pitt gathered his handful of troops at their offices in Brillstein-Grey's Beverly Hills headquarters and told them how committed he was to Plan B, emphasizing that he had no intention of closing the company even though he would be paying his staff's salaries himself.

"I left with the feeling that this was somehow a central part of his understanding of himself as an artist and a business person," says Kleiner. "It was very confidence-inspiring."

Still, uncertainty shrouded the Plan B executives' lives, especially in terms of who would replace Grey.

"When someone as formidable as Brad Grey leaves, you just assume an equally tenured person will come in," explains Gardner. "I thought, 'This will never stick.' But Jeremy and I put our heads down and, in the most organic way, kept riding the bike."

Eventually, in spring 2005, Pitt sat down with her and Kleiner and said he liked the way things were going and the films they were developing -- including Year of the Dog and The Time Traveler's Wife -- and they would be running the company.

Grey's exit left a tangled legal situation with Warner Bros., however. Now the executive wanted to move the company to Paramount and approached then-Warners president Alan Horn to discuss which projects Plan B would take and which would remain at Horn's studio. "It wasn't as crystal clear as it should have been in the contract," acknowledges Grey, "so it became one of those negotiations."

While Plan B was extricating itself from Warners, it also moved forward with Running With Scissors and Jesse James. Those films solidified the company's reputation as a champion of original material; but their box-office inconsistency left a question mark about its commercial taste.

Slave, when it began, seemed even less commercial.

The idea of making a picture about the "peculiar institution" (as slavery euphemistically was known in the 19th century) first was broached in summer 2008, when Gardner and Kleiner met at the Chateau Marmont with a young British director, Steve McQueen, shortly before his first feature, Hunger, debuted at Toronto.

[pagebreak]

McQueen, who keeps a family tree at his home in Amsterdam going back hundreds of years to his slave ancestors in the West Indies, was intrigued that there had been no major movie about slavery from an African-American point of view. He also was fascinated by "just the extent of it, the scale of it," he says. "You think you know that, but when you get into the details, it's a factory, an institution which is bigger than most industries you could think of. And what's interesting about it for me was how much it was the norm, in a way. There was no humanity; they were cattle."

After the Chateau Marmont meeting, Pitt arranged to sit down with McQueen separately. "We met in London over a couple of bottles of wine," recalls Pitt, "and ended up talking until the wee hours of the night about art and history -- he was a video artist first." (McQueen, 43, is a recipient of Britain's Turner prize, its most prestigious award for an artist under age 50.)

Encouraged by Plan B, the helmer began to work with screenwriter John Ridley (Red Tails), who agreed to write a screenplay on spec. At the beginning, they had a theme but no story. "What I wanted was the idea of a free man who had been kidnapped and put through the assault course of slavery," explains McQueen. "I thought that was a great 'in' to the subject."

STORY: Telluride: Steve McQueen's '12 Years a Slave' Met with Shock and Awe at World Premiere [18]

Soon McQueen's wife, Bianca Stigter, a writer and art historian, discovered Solomon Northup's memoir, Twelve Years a Slave: Narrative of Solomon Northup, a Citizen of New-York, Kidnapped in Washington City in 1841, and Rescued in 1853, From a Cotton Plantation Near the Red River, in Louisiana.

The book, a best-seller that sold 27,000 copies when it was published in 1853, is one of a mere 101 "fugitive slave narratives" written before the Civil War, says Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates, a consultant on the film. Of those, only this one "is the narrative of a free man who was kidnapped and manages in this case to be liberated."

McQueen was stunned by the memoir's drama and fablelike quality. "It read like Pinocchio," he says. "I was shocked, I was thrown."

That combination appealed to Pitt. "This particular story, these transformative experiences from visceral filmmakers are the things that truly excite me," he says.

He and his partners studied the book and other original slave stories in depth. Gardner rejects allegations that the Northup account might have been somewhat fictionalized. "We have had numerous conversations with 'Skip' Gates, Ira Berlin, tons and tons of historians who all vouch for its authenticity based on numerous pieces of evidence," she says.

VIDEO: '12 Years a Slave' Trailer: Chiwetel Ejiofor Fights for Survival as Slave Solomon Northup [19]

While the script was progressing, Plan B strove to find the money for what was envisioned as a $30 million film. Even with Pitt committed to play a small part as an itinerant laborer who comes to Solomon's aid, that wasn't easy. Few wanted to tackle a film of Slave's bleakness, with its harrowing scenes showing children torn from their mother and a young woman brutally whipped; nor was there any great conviction that a large enough audience existed for a film about the African-American experience -- though the subsequent success of The Help, Lee Daniels' The Butler and Fruitvale Station would appear proof positive.

Bill Pohlad's production and financing company River Road Entertainment joined the project early and helped in its development. "We had done Tree of Life with Brad," he notes. "That was a trial by fire, and Brad was super-committed. He is very passionate, and sincerely passionate, a great quality and a surprise."

Following Pohlad, Fox Searchlight agreed to pay for some of the production's cost, with Arnon Milchan's New Regency footing the rest, and Summit International handling foreign sales -- all drawn by Pitt's stature and his team's conviction.

"We were able to put something together, but it had to be done for a price," says Pitt. The film finally would cost a gross $20 million and receive $4 million in rebates from Louisiana.

STORY: Box Office Milestone: 'World War Z' Becomes Brad Pitt's Top-Grossing Film [6]

Early on, American Gangster's Chiwetel Ejiofor, a British native, signed on as Solomon; Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch, Sarah Paulson, Paul Giamatti and Alfre Woodard all followed. But one pivotal role remained uncast: Patsey, a young slave who works for the slave owner Edwin Epps (Fassbender) and is the subject of his wife's jealousy and both characters' brutalization.

"We auditioned over 1,000 people for the part," says McQueen. "It was like looking for Scarlett O'Hara. I thought we would never find her" -- until a tape came from an untried actress of Kenyan descent, born in Mexico and about to graduate from the Yale School of Drama. The actress, Lupita Nyong'o, had heard about the film from her manager.

"[My manager] put me on tape with a camera in her house against a plain background," recalls Nyong'o. "I did two scenes from the movie -- the scene where Patsey asks Platt [the name Solomon is given by his master] to kill her; and the scene right before the whipping" -- when Fassbender attacks the young woman. "It's pretty difficult to do in a room with fluorescent lights."

When McQueen saw her tape, he flew her to the set: "She came down to New Orleans, and that was it."

With Gardner and Kleiner on hand, and Pitt there for a while, a seven-week shoot began in June 2012 in and around New Orleans. The cast suffocated in heat that regularly topped 100 degrees and then had to deal with a hurricane that destroyed part of the set, but otherwise the shoot was trouble-free.

[pagebreak]

The hardest thing, says McQueen, was dealing with "the violence. I think the biggest challenge was for the actors, going to these dark places, and for me keeping things together, having to be captain of the ship where you have to make people insane, then come out the other end and be sane again."

STORY: How Brad Pitt's 'World War Z' Came Back From the Dead [20]

While McQueen was dealing with one kind of insanity, Pitt was dealing with another on Z.

Five years after Paramount had bought Max Brooks' novel World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War for Plan B (following a 2006 bidding war with Leonardo DiCaprio's Appian Way) and after writers J. Michael Straczynski and Matt Carnahan had gone through multiple drafts, a difficult shoot had taken place in which one line producer had had to be fired and another brought in.

When a rough cut was assembled, it became clear the ending wasn't working. After the picture was screened for all the producers and Paramount execs Adam Goodman, Marc Evans and Geoff Stier, they and the Plan B team huddled over what to do.

"The conclusion that we needed to reshoot was immediate and uniform," says Gardner. "We were obviously dealing with an enormous responsibility. Paramount was a great partner, but I can't say any of it was calm, and it wouldn't be calm until we made a great movie."

Reports began to circulate that Pitt and director Forster weren't speaking. "The idea they were not speaking was not my experience," says Lindelof, who was brought in to rework the ending. "And more importantly, the way Brad talked about Marc and Marc talked about Brad was entirely respectable, as if they were both creative partners trying to fix a problem."

Admits Grey: "Those were fairly intense times for all of us as filmmakers. But having been in this business some time, both of us know if you put yourself in the arena, it comes with the territory."

STORY: Paramount, Brad Pitt Set Sights on 'World War Z' Sequel [21]

The group turned to Lindelof, a longtime Gardner friend, who now suggested rewriting the third act altogether, abandoning an extravagant battle and closing with a more suspenseful, intimate sequence in which Pitt must infiltrate a laboratory riddled with zombies. No other ending was explored. "Damon always felt there needed to be a very kind of personal context for this as opposed to the instinct to scale up," says Kleiner.

Reshoots meant that Z's release would be delayed from late 2012 until summer 2013; but Paramount agreed this was the right way to go, even though it meant Pitt would be promoting two films back-to-back.

Five weeks of Z reshoots commenced in fall 2011 and continued through November, with Pitt juggling that movie and Slave.

With both movies wrapped, Team Pitt hunkered down to complete postproduction on both pictures. After McQueen showed Gardner his cut of Slave in Amsterdam, he flew to Los Angeles and worked with Pitt, who shuttled between the Paramount lot, where Z was being edited, and the San Fernando Valley, where McQueen was finishing his film.

"Brad [juggled the two] with great dexterity," says Gardner. "There was a sense that every minute counted, and if that meant we were there till midnight, we were there till midnight. We would cobble every minute we could. [Brad handled it] gracefully, very conscious of solving the problems we were currently looking at. If we had made a list of all the problems we didn't yet know, it would have been easy to crumble. But if you look at the problems at hand -- it was very methodical. Being methodical is a real muscle, and he has it and knows when to use it."

Given that Pitt, Gardner and Kleiner have children, they were "dependent on the patience of loved ones," says Gardner. She and Kleiner sometimes brought their kids to the editing room, but Pitt always came alone. "We'd have many a night when everyone would say, 'I am going home to have dinner with the kids' or 'I'm going to give the kids a bath and I'll be back in the cutting room,' " says Gardner. "It was just our lives."

[pagebreak]

Pitt's absorption with the work to some degree gave him immunity from the dozens of nattering nabobs, particularly where Z was concerned.

"I have done this long enough and have sat in editing rooms with enough talented people that I have a grasp of, 'How do we shape things when they are not working?' " he reflects. "The idea was, let people see it and let them talk."

STORY: World War Z: Film Review [22]

Producing seems to enrich Pitt more than acting at this point, he admits, though he gives no indication he might step away from his career as a performer: "As I get older, I am enjoying more the producorial side of things -- not being so forefront in the camera -- the creativity of putting the pieces together."

The company now is moving forward with projects including an adaptation of Joyce Carol Oates' Marilyn Monroe novel Blonde, with Andrew Dominik (Jesse James) to direct; The Last Family of England, with Taika Waititi directing the story centered on a talking dog; and Black Hole, a project that teams Plan B with David Fincher and is adapted from the Charles Burns graphic novel about a virus that infects a group of kids living in the northwest, manifesting itself in strange, supernatural ways (one kid, for instance, develops a second mouth that always speaks the truth).

Plan B also is developing The Operators, based on the book by the late Michael Hastings, which Gardner describes as an expansion of his Rolling Stone article that led to the firing of Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan from June 2009 to June 2010 whose impolitic remarks about the president -- during time spent with Hastings -- caused a media firestorm.

Pitt says his company's strategy will remain the same as it has been from the start: "We follow the storytellers, and our little garage band of a production company's mandate was [always] to help complex films get over the hill if they need a little push. We are in a fortunate position to do that."

At the same time, the actor-producer says Plan B -- whose money is raised on a per-film basis -- now is starting to look at outside sources of finance. "We have been talking about the next evolution of what we do," he continues. "Do we stay in the same construct as now? Are there new constructs we can investigate?"

As to Plan B's long-term future, Pitt says he wants to maintain the same mix of big-budget and low-budget, always with pictures that strive to push boundaries. "I wouldn't want to change anything," he says. "I like extremes."
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Re: Twelve Years' a Slave

Post by Admin on Fri Oct 18, 2013 10:03 pm

http://uinterview.com/news/madonna-banned-from-alamo-drafthouse-after-being-caught-texting-during-screening-of-12-years-a-slave-9181

Madonna Banned From Alamo Drafthouse After Being Caught Texting During Screening Of '12 Years A Slave'

10/16/2013

Madonna has been banned from the Alamo Drafthouse cinemas after she was caught texting during a New York Film Festival screening of 12 Years A Slave on Oct. 8.

According to reports, Madonna would not stop texting as the movie began and, when an audience member asked her to put her phone away, Madonna allegedly responded with, “It’s for business… enslaver!”

Film critic Charles Taylor made the story public via his Facebook page, claiming that a former student of his had told him about Madonna’s rude behavior:

“Tonight at the New York Film Festival premiere of 12 Years a Slave (a masterpiece, by the way), I sat behind the unholy trifecta of Jason Ritter, J. Alexander from America’s Next Top Model, and Michael K. Williams from The Wire. Plus, a mysterious blonde in black lace gloves who wouldn’t stop texting on her Blackberry throughout the first half of the movie. Eventually, a woman next to me tapped her on the shoulder and told her to put her phone away, and the blonde hissed back, ‘It’s for business… ENSLAVER!’… During the standing ovation, the blonde ducked out and Jason Ritter turned around to make commiserating eye contact, as J. Alexander asked, ‘Who WAS that?!’ Jason then looked down at the floor. His eyes got wide, and he picked up an envelope and showed it to us and J. And it said: ‘2 screening tix MADONNA.’ And sure enough, we looked to the side of the theater and standing against the wall in black lace gloves was Madonna. The worst person in America.”

Actor Jason Ritter appears to have heard the story, as he tweeted about the film on Monday, trying to steer the conversation away from Madonna and towards the film itself. “The point is, ’12 Years a Slave’ is a beautiful movie, and everyone should see it,” he tweeted.


After the story broke, Alamo Drafthouse, which has a strict policy against cell phone use during screenings, informed her that she would no longer be welcome at any of their venues until she apologizes. CEO Tim League announced the ban over Twitter:


League later revealed in an interview that he had intended the ban as a joke, hoping to encourage people to refrain from texting while watching, but that since the story has taken hold, he fully intends on enforcing the ban.

“Yeah, I’m serious, but I don’t think it really affects her life that much,” League told EW.

Regardless of how it affects, or does not affect, Madonna, angry Madonna supporters have been berating League on Twitter.


Madonna, herself, has not commented on the allegations, but sources say her texting did not stop her from feeling the emotional impact of the film.

“She was wiping away tears after the movie. She said she loved the movie,” an attendee told E! News.

12 Years a Slave opens Oct. 18.
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Re: Twelve Years' a Slave

Post by Admin on Fri Oct 18, 2013 10:03 pm

http://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/movies/12-years-a-slave-mother-of-george-and-the-aesthetic-politics-of-filming-black-skin/2013/10/17/282af868-35cd-11e3-80c6-7e6dd8d22d8f_story.html

‘12 Years a Slave,’ ‘Mother of George,’ and the aesthetic politics of filming black skin
By Ann Hornaday, Published: October 17

In one of the first scenes of early Oscar favorite “12 Years a Slave,” the film’s protagonist, Solomon Northup, played by Chiwetel Ejiofor , is seen at night, sleeping alongside a fellow enslaved servant. Their faces are barely illuminated against the velvety black background, but the subtle differences in their complexions — his a burnished mahogany, hers bearing a lighter, more yellow cast — are clearly defined.

“Mother of George,” which like “12 Years a Slave” opens on Friday, takes place in modern-day Brooklyn, not the candlelit world of 19th-century Louisiana. But, like “12 Years a Slave,” its black stars and supporting players are exquisitely lit, their blue-black skin tones sharply contrasting with the African textiles they wear to create a vibrant tableau of textures and hues.

“Mother of George” and “12 Years a Slave” are just the most recent in a remarkable run of films this year by and about African Americans, films that range in genre from the urban realism of “Fruitvale Station” and light romantic comedy of “Baggage Claim" to the high-gloss historic drama of “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” and the evocatively gritty pot comedy “Newlyweeds.” The diversity of these films isn’t reflected just in their stories and characters, but in the wide range of skin tones they represent, from the deepest ebonies to the creamiest caramels.

The fact that audiences are seeing such a varied, nuanced spectrum of black faces isn’t just a matter of poetics, but politics — and the advent of digital filmmaking. For the first hundred years of cinema, when images were captured on celluloid and processed photochemically, disregard for black skin and its subtle shadings was inscribed in the technology itself, from how film-stock emulsions and light meters were calibrated, to the models used as standards for adjusting color and tone.

That embedded racism extended into the aesthetics of the medium itself, which from its very beginnings was predicated on the denigration and erasure of the black body. As far back as “The Birth of a Nation” — in which white actors wearing blackface depicted Reconstruction-era blacks as wild-eyed rapists and corrupt politicians — the technology and grammar of cinema and photography have been centered on the unspoken assumption that their rightful subjects would be white.

The result was that, if black people were visible at all, their images would often be painfully caricatured (see Hattie McDaniel in “Gone With the Wind”) or otherwise distorted, either ashy and washed-out or featureless points of contrast within the frame. As “12 Years a Slave” director Steve McQueen said in Toronto after the film’s premiere there, “I remember growing up and seeing Sidney Poitier sweating next to Rod Steiger in ‘In the Heat of the Night,’ and obviously [that was because] it’s very hot in the South. But also he was sweating because he had tons of light thrown on him, because the film stock wasn’t sensitive enough for black skin.”

Montré Aza Missouri, an assistant professor in film at Howard University, recalls being told by one of her instructors in London that “if you found yourself in the ‘unfortunate situation’ of shooting on the ‘Dark Continent,’ and if you’re shooting dark-skinned people, then you should rub Vaseline on their skin in order to reflect light. It was never an issue of questioning the technology.” In her classes at Howard, Missouri says, “I talk to my students about the idea that the tools used to make film, the science of it, are not racially neutral.”

Missouri reminds her students that the sensors used in light meters have been calibrated for white skin; rather than resorting to the offensive Vaseline solution, they need to manage the built-in bias of their instruments, in this case opening their cameras’ apertures one or two stops to allow more light through the lens. Filmmakers working with celluloid also need to take into account that most American film stocks weren’t manufactured with a sensitive enough dynamic range to capture a variety of dark skin tones. Even the female models whose images are used as reference points for color balance and tonal density during film processing — commonly called “China Girls” — were, until the mid-1990s, historically white.

In the face of such technological chauvinism, filmmakers have been forced to come up with workarounds, including those lights thrown on Poitier and a variety of gels, scrims and filters. But today, such workarounds have been rendered virtually obsolete by the advent of digital cinematography, which allows filmmakers much more flexibility both in capturing images and manipulating them during post-production.

Cinematographer Anastas Michos recalls filming “Freedomland” with Julianne Moore and Samuel L. Jackson, whose dramatically different complexions presented a challenge when they were in the same shot. “You had Julianne Moore, who has minus pigment in her skin, and Sam, who’s a dark-skinned guy. It was a photographic challenge to bring out the undertones in both of them.”

Michos solved the problem during a phase of post-production called the digital intermediate, during which the film print is digitized, then manipulated and fine-tuned. “You’re now able to isolate specific skin tones in terms of both brightness and color,” says Michos, who also shot “Baggage Claim,” “Jumping the Broom” and “Black Nativity,” due out later this year. “It gives you a little bit more flexibility in terms of how you paint the frame.”

Daniel Patterson, who shot “Newlyweeds” on a digital Red One camera, agrees, noting that on a recent shoot for Spike Lee’s “Da Blood of Jesus,” he was able to photograph black actors of dramatically different skin tones in a nighttime interior scene using just everyday house lamps, thanks to a sophisticated digital camera. “I just changed the wattage of the bulb, used a dimmer, and I didn’t have to use any film lights. That kind of blew me away,” Patterson says. “The camera was able to hold both of them during the scene without any issues.”

The multicultural realities films increasingly reflect go hand in hand with the advent of technology that’s finally able to capture them with accuracy and sensitivity. And on the forefront of this new vanguard is cinematographer and Howard University graduate Bradford Young , the latest in a long line of Howard alums — including Ernest Dickerson, Arthur Jafa and Malik Sayeed — who throughout the 1990s deployed the means of production to bring new forms of lyricism, stylization and depth to filmed images of African Americans.

At Howard, Young says, “the question of representation was always first and foremost. . . . When bias is built into the negative, how does that affect the way we see people of color on screen? People like Ernest, Malik and A.J. [found] a sweet spot. There’s always an inherent bias sitting over us. We’ve just got to climb through it and survive, and that’s what’s embodied in the cinematography.”

Whether working on film stock for Dee Rees’s “Pariah,” high-definition video for Ava DuVernay’s “Middle of Nowhere,” or with digital Red cameras for Andrew Dosunmu’s “Restless City” and “Mother of George,” Young is finding a newly rich visual language, one that’s simultaneously straightforward, soft, stylish and intimately naturalistic. His work with Dosunmu — for which Young won the Sundance cinematography award this year — is especially expressive, with the camera coming in and out of focus and often capturing the actors in moments of stillness, like works of sculpture.

“I was trying to be assertive with the imagery as flamboyant, space-age and assertive as African American textiles have been for 10,000 years,” Young explains, adding that he lit “Mother of George” to accentuate blue skin tones and illuminated scenes from above, to suggest natural sunlight. “It takes us back to Tuaregs and Niger and nomads, because the people in the film are kind of like nomads,” he says. “That’s why the top light is always so cool, and their hands are always stained with something. Because that’s what nomadic people do.”

Solomon Northup is a nomad as well in “12 Years a Slave,” in which he and his fellow laborers — often abused, but shown in all their physical types and tonal subtleties — stand in symbolic rebuke to a cinematic apparatus that habitually ignored or despised them. Like their brethren in “Mother of George” and other denizens of this year’s “black new wave,” these characters are claiming aesthetic space that they’ve long been denied.

That space, at long last, seems endless: Young suggested that his next step with Dosunmu might be photographing a movie in 3-D. Having transformed the black body in a two-dimensional format, he says, “let’s work on the perception of the black body in space. Instead of having depth of field, let’s actually take control of each field.” It’s tempting to imagine that Northup and his peers would agree — literally, metaphorically and, not least of all, cinematically.
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Re: Twelve Years' a Slave

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http://www.motherjones.com/media/2013/10/12-years-slave-henry-louis-gates-jr-historical-consultant


Henry Louis Gates Jr. Fact-Checks "12 Years a Slave"
"I'm not the kind of scholar who confuses a feature film with a documentary."

—By Asawin Suebsaeng
| Wed Oct. 16, 2013 3:00 AM PDT
37

12 Years a SlaveLeft to right: Michael Fassbender, Lupita Nyong'o, and Chiwetel Ejiofor. Courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures

Buy the hype: Director Steve McQueen's 12 Years a Slave is a powerful, stunning film—perhaps the finest ever made on the moral travesty of American slavery. It tells the true story of Solomon Northup (played by the stellar Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free man who was drugged and kidnapped in Washington, DC, in 1841 and sold into slavery. Northup, a violinist and family man based in Saratoga Springs, New York, was forced to work on Louisiana plantations for 12 years. The movie, written by John Ridley and coproduced by Brad Pitt, is based on Northup's 1853 autobiography Twelve Years a Slave.

All the film's elements—the sublime acting, the music, the unflinching depiction of slavery—conspire to create a classic in the making. As is standard with any Oscar bait that's based on an amazing-but-true story, critics and scholars are lining up to determine how well the drama stacks up to recorded history. On top of this, literary scholars have long examined and debated the "literal truth" of the film's source material. The filmmakers, fortunately, had just the right historical consultant in their corner: Henry Louis Gates Jr., the Harvard professor who edited a recent edition of Northup's memoir.

"It was refreshing how closely they followed the exact events," Gates tells Mother Jones. "But I'm not the kind of scholar who confuses a feature film with a documentary."
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Gates is something of a "scholar-celebrity," an Ivy League professor whose pop-culture name recognition goes significantly beyond his literary criticism and research. Following his arrest in front of his Cambridge home in 2009 (a neighbor had called the police after mistaking him for an intruder), he was at the center of a widely covered and racially charged controversy that culminated in that famous White House "beer summit" with President Obama, Vice President Biden, Gates, and his arresting officer. And 12 Years a Slave is hardly his first encounter with Hollywood or filmmaking. Along with several documentary producing credits under his belt, Gates was also a consultant on Amistad, Steven Spielberg's 1997 drama about the trial following the bloody 1839 rebellion aboard a Spanish slave ship. Gates visited Spielberg and his crew while they filmed in New England, and he made suggestions, including having a slave read from a book, a detail that was included in the film's final cut. (For his tips, Gates was thanked by Amistad's producers in the end credits.)

"I know Northup's narrative like the back of my hand," Gates says. "And [the filmmakers] followed the text with great fidelity…There's no question about the historical accuracy. They did a wonderful job."

Gates' consultation was conducted via emails and a lengthy phone conversation. "I didn't even meet Steve McQueen until the Toronto screening," he says. According to Gates, McQueen and producers crafted the film's postscript with his direct involvement. But the professor's main contribution was to read the script and offer notes on historical accuracy. "It was fun. I did it in my study," he recalls. "It was much like studying…And I didn't have to make any corrections." Gates also hosted a special screening of 12 Years a Slave last August on Martha's Vineyard, where lawyer and political commentator Alan Dershowitz dubbed it "the African-American Schindler's List."
After he saw Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained last year, Gates called Harvey Weinstein to tell him that Tarantino had fudged the date of the start of the Civil War.

Fact-checking major films on black history is one of Gates' favorite pastimes. After he saw Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained last year, he called producer and studio exec Harvey Weinstein to tell him that Tarantino had fudged the date of the start of the Civil War. "Quentin Tarantino should know that the Civil War broke out in 1861!" Gates says. He later discussed the film flub with the director himself during a three-part conversation taped for The Root, the black news and opinion website he cofounded.

This aside, Gates is a big fan of Tarantino's Oscar-winning film, which he calls the "best post-modern Spaghetti Western film about slavery" ever mounted. "You can't teach history through Django, though," Gates concedes. "But any professor could have a great class with Django contrasted with 12 Years a Slave. It is an accident of history that the two were released within 12 months of each other—a delightful accident."

Gates' involvement with McQueen's much-acclaimed new film is sure to gain him even more coverage and attention. But while he was sending emails on the 12 Years a Slave script, he was busy preparing another project, one he had been working on since 2006. It's a six-part documentary titled The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross, which premieres October 22 on PBS. "We worked with 40 historians as consultants," Gates says. Together, they prepared lists of more than 1,000 essential stories in African American history; they pared it down to 70. The series traces 500 years of black history and culture, from 1513 to the second inauguration of President Obama.

12 Years a Slave hits theaters four days before the debut of this PBS series. So how does Gates feel about McQueen's vision, in one sentence? "It's an amazing film," he says, "the best film about slavery ever made from the point of view of a slave." With that appraisal, Gates is in good company.

Here's a trailer for 12 Years a Slave:

12 Years a Slave gets a release on Friday, October 18. The film is rated R for violence/cruelty, some nudity, and brief sexuality. Click here for local showtimes and tickets.
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