12 Years a Slave

12 Years a Slave (2013)

Part of Channel 4’s programming for Black History Month, which offers an important platform for different aspects of the Black experience in modern Britain.
Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender and Benedict Cumberbatch star in Steve McQueen’s triple-Oscar-winning historical drama that explores the horrific daily realities of slavery in pre-Civil War America. The narrative is based on freeborn African American Solomon Northup’s 1853 memoir. In 1841, Northup (Ejiofor, in a BAFTA Film Award-winning performance) left upstate New York for a brief job as a violinist in Washington DC. But the contract is a ruse and he wakes from a drugged sleep to find himself the property of first a slave dealer (Paul Giamatti) and then plantation owners in the southern states. The first of these, William Ford (Cumberbatch), is relatively humane, but Ford sells Northup to a vicious tyrant, Edwin Epps (Fassbender). As time passes and injustice is heaped upon appalling injustice, Northup must find the strength to cope with his predicament – and the hope that he can escape his terrible fate… Also starring Lupita Nyong’o as Patsey, the defiant slave who befriends Northup on Epps’s plantation; Brad Pitt as Samuel Bass, the Canadian labourer whom Northup asks for help; and Alfre Woodard as Mistress Harriet Shaw. The film won its Oscars for best film, best adapted screenplay (John Ridley) and best supporting actress (Nyong’o).

12 Years a Slave – Saturday 9pm on Channel 4