In 1841, Solomon Northup, a free black man in the north, was kidnapped and dragged into slavery. For the next 12 years he remained in the south, working as a slave, until finally being released in 1853. His book about the experience, Twelve Years A Slave, was published almost immediately. But it took another 160 years before his incredible story was made into a film, by director Steve McQueen. To McQueen, the story always comes first, and he's surprised by how few stories about slavery have been adapted to the big screen. Nevertheless, his film, 12 Years a Slave, has been continually examined alongside other 'slavery movies,' of which there are very few. Just like his previous films, Hunger and Shame, McQueen approaches Solomon Northup's tale with nothing but a simple desire to understand.
Banner image: Larry Hirshowitz