Sunday, September 15, 2013

Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch: British filmmaker’s ‘12 Years a Slave’ wins best picture in Toronto

Actor and star of the film “12 Years a Slave,” Chiwetel Ejiofor poses for a portrait, on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013 in New York. PHOTO BY CARLO ALLEGRI/INVISION/AP

Agence France-Presse
September 16, 2013 | 5:15 am

OTTAWA—British filmmaker Steve McQueen’s “12 Years a Slave” won the audience prize for best picture at the Toronto International Film Festival on Sunday.

The film, already generating Oscars buzz, is based on a firsthand account of Solomon Northup, a free black man from upstate New York who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in 1841, recalling the horrors of grueling labor, daily humiliation and families torn apart.

Its premiere in Toronto last week received a standing ovation, as well as sobs, while some in the audience left early over the film’s graphic portrayal of unspeakable torture of slaves during this period in history.

The story is “a gift from the past to open a discussion, not about race, particularly, but about human dignity and our freedoms and what we most require in the world,” said actor Chiwetel Ejiofor, who plays Northup.

“And the only way to really open that discussion is to see all sides of it.”

The film also stars Michael Fassbender as a cruel plantation owner, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano, Garret Dillahunt, Paul Giamatti, Scoot McNairy, Lupita Nyong’o, Adepero Oduye, Sarah Paulson, Brad Pitt, Michael Kenneth Williams and Alfre Woodard.

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