African are taking over Hollywood, British -Nigerian actor Chiwetel Ejiofor plays the principal role of Solomom Northup. Alone side him is Mexican born Kenya actresses Lupita Nyong’o who plays Patsey.
The story it tells, a true one, is horrifying: In 1841, Solomon Northup, a free, educated black man from Saratoga, New York, was kidnapped, sold into slavery, and transported to Louisiana. His captivity lasted 12 years. To survive, he had to hide the fact that he could read and write, which prevented him from contacting not just his wife and children, but also any of his friends in the North who might have helped him.
Northup recounted his story in 12 Years a Slave, a piercing memoir published in 1853. The title alone is austere and direct, almost painfully elegant, and that must have been the effect McQueen was going for, too. His interpretation of 12 Years a Slave is beautifully shot (by Sean Bobbitt), contrasting the all-too-visible evil of mankind with the occasional ribbon of pretty sky peeking through the Louisiana trees.
The film Director McQueen is also known for provocative films like Hunger, about a hunger strike at a prison in Northern Ireland.