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Talking Movies

Is 12 Years a Slave too brutal to watch?

12 Years a Slave has been winning plaudits as well as criticism for its unflinching portrayal of slavery. Tom Brook interviews the film’s director, Steve McQueen.

12 Years a Slave is a fact-based film from director Steve McQueen (Hunger, Shame) that tells the story of Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free man who spent over a decade in captivity after he was deceived and sold to slavery.

Since its debut at the Toronto Film Festival – where several people reportedly walked out of the screening – 12 Years a Slave has been attracting as much attention for its visceral, hard-to-watch scenes of brutality as it has award predictions.

Tom Brook talks with Steve McQueen about why he wanted to make the film, why audiences connect with the story, and whether the Oscar rumour-mill and criticisms are distracting from the film’s message.

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