With only two features under his belt, director Steve McQueen stands out like a beacon for modern filmmakers. The fearless and outspoken filmmaker whose work is as brutally human as it is viciously beautiful has given us the Michael Fassbinder-led Hunger and Shame, but since the latter’s debut in early 2012, we’ve been waiting eagerly for his follow-up, the 19th-century-set drama Twelve Years a Slave
Starring the brilliant Chiwetel Ejiofor—whom McQueen calls, "like a Sidney Poitier or even Harry Belafonte"—the film is based on Solomon Northup’s 1853 autobiography, telling his story as a slave who was kidnapped and put in a slave pen, "paving the way for a grueling life under numerous owners." "You can look at this film and be of any ethnic grouping and identify with Solomon," says McQueen, "he has been taken away into circumstances that are horrific and not pleasant. All he wants is to get back to his family."
Alongside Ejiofor, the cast features the ample talents of Fassbinder, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Giamatti, Lupita Nyongo, Sarah Paulson, and Scoot McNairy with Fox Searchlight (the company releasing the film) alums, Beasts of the Southern Wild stars Quvezhane Wallis and Dwight Henry. And last night, we were given the first hefty taste of the film with a slew of stills from the picture courtesy of USA Today. Speaking to the publication, McQueen says Northup’s story was "the Anne Frank story of America of that time…It’s the situation and the detail of Solomon’s recollection of those events that ingrained itself in my brain, and the humanity of everyone involved."
Needless to say, excitement for the film is high. So in the meantime, check out the photos below.