Toronto Film Festival Attendees Walk Out On “12 Years A Slave” Due To Slave Beating Scenes

September 12, 2013  |  

Source; 12 Years A Slave

Last week at the Toronto Film Festival,  scenes from the premiere of “12 Years A Slave” caused audience members to walk out of the theater due to torturous beating scenes. Despite the backlash, the star of the movie, Chiwetel Ejiofor, defended its violence. He told The Independent it was vital for the film’s viewers to see a clear depiction of  Solomon Northup’s  autobiography, which shares the same title, on the big screen.

“Solomon’s story is full of [violence] but also full of beauty and hope and human respect and dignity. With Steve [McQueen, the director] there to guide it, we weren’t afraid to explore all that, and go to those dark places.”

“12 Years A Slave” tells the tale of a born-freed man, Solomon Northup, who was a  musician in Saratoga Springs, New York. Northup was kidnapped and sold into slavery in the South. The movie opens up with Northup being beaten 15 times with a bat and then whipped by his kidnappers. The film also features slave lynchings, and most notoriously, a gruesome scene featuring a plantation owner who strung a slave to a post to beat her a total of 41 times.

Although some audience members left the Toronto premiere, “12 Years A Slave” still received a 10-minute standing ovation. Based on that response, many expect the film to receive numerous Oscar nominations. Director Steve McQueen told the audience the reason he wanted to adapt Northup’s story into a motion picture:

“I wanted to see that story on film, It’s that simple.”

Actor Brad Pitt who had a role in the film also served as a producer and said:

 “Steve was the first to ask why there have not been more films on the US history of slavery. It’s a question it took a Brit to ask.”

Though we doubt Steve McQueen was the first person who thought the narratives of slaves needed to be heard and served justice, we do know he had the access to provide a platform for the terrifying experience Northup endured.  McQueen is a black British director, his nation —  England — had a different relationship with slavery than the United States.  England abolished slavery in their colonies before America and implemented colonialism instead.  Perhaps if a black American filmmaker had a similar  approach,  media outlets in the States would have viewed “12 Years A Slave”  as an exaggeration of the slave experience.

Below is a trailer of “12 Year A Slave.” What do you think about the film?

’12 Years A Slave’  will be in theaters October 18! Will you go watch the film? 

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  • kunga

    These were not slaves. They were African people kidnapped tortured and enslaved. To call them slaves is too simplistic. They were people first.

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  • clove8canela

    Can’t wait to see this! I love that finally quality movies are being made about the black experience in the US. African slaves weren’t even considered human, just 1/5 of a person so we need to see the real treatment of people considered as such. It’s uncomfortable but it needs to be told. When I saw The Butler last week, I loved that Lee Daniels showed the true violence of the civil rights movement. How blacks were berated, demeaned, violently attacked just because fhey wanted the same rights! More movies like this please. And the fact that blacks are now both in front of, and behind the camera, makes me proud as well.

  • mamazulu

    thats cause black people rather see love and hip hop and basketball wives instead of ensuring that our stories are being told and our history be preserved. I swear crack is a hell of a drug.. it took so much from us. we did so much more for our people when we had less.

    • IAJS

      Our history is more than slavery and I am tired of Hollywood depicting our lives either way.

  • cocohanel31

    People are afraid to hear/see the truth! There was nothing cute about slavery! The horrific scenes remind me of the movie SANKOFA about the slaves on a sugar plantation in Haiti. Very raw film as well. I will be front row to see this. Just downloaded the book!

  • Che613

    You guys clearly do not do your research. Director Steve McQueen is a African American. smh.

    • Che

      Correction. He’s British. But the filmaker is still a black man.

  • ccpeachgal

    I look forward to seeing this movie and learning about this man’s journey !!!

  • Ms kai

    That was then look at the way we treat each other on social media today. The cerebral and emotional beating is worst and more damaging.

    • SHa

      Willie Lynch!!!
      If you don’t know please, please, please, please, please find out and share with every person you know starting with a family conversation! We have to know what actually happened in order to correct it! Slavery was truly an institution with the same eveil mindset of the Holocaust.

  • kierah

    People need to remember that slaves lived under the threat of horrific violence. We can’t sugar coat this part of our history. The US is afraid to deal with this part of our history.
    It’s ridiculous that we have a Holocaust Museum in DC before we have a national museum for African-American History and Culture (that will include slavery).

    • CKB

      I was just in DC last week and thinking the very same thing.

    • Ms_Sunshine9898

      They have already started building one at the mall already . . .

      • Tracu

        True but, when I was there I felt like “my history” was missing in so many areas.

        But, we need to see the reality of what our ancestors endured,

    • You are so right that we can’t sugar coat the history. I can’t believe in DC there isn’t a museum for African-American history, as racist as Texas maybe. Houston has a museum with info about slavery. I pray we have an eye opener soon, we can sweep what happened in the past under the rug.

    • I agree completely. Yes, it’s shocking and horrifying, but people actually went through this; it’s a movie, but the degradation was real. The truth needs to be told.

  • pfeiffer87

    Um Steve McQueen is a black filmmaker