Magazine article Screen International

Steve McQueen: 'Slave' Is about Love

Magazine article Screen International

Steve McQueen: 'Slave' Is about Love

Article excerpt

Director says if 12 Years A Slave starts a new conversation about slavery that'll be "about time."

Director Steve McQueen's lauded latest feature, 12 Years a Slave, offers frank portrayal of the American slave trade and 19th century race relations.

But according to the London-born filmmaker, there's more to the unapologetic historical drama than viewers are initially letting on.

"This film for me is about love," he said during a press conference at TIFF Bell Lightbox today. "That's it."

Adapted from the 1853 autobiography of black freeman Solomon Northup (played by National Theatre-veteran Chiwetel Ejiofor), McQueen's third full-length feature follows the protagonist as he tries to return to his family after being kidnapped and forced into slavery in the American south.

Following the release of 2011's Shame, McQueen knew he wanted to tell a story about the life of a slave, but wasn't sure how to go about doing research for the project. But after his wife handed him a copy of Northup's memoirs, he "couldn't let it go."

"It was just remarkable," he said. "Each turn of the page was a revelation. …

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