The 2014 Academy Awards are only a few days away, but 12 Years a Slave director Steve McQueen, en route to Los Angeles, managed to squeeze in a visit to the United Nations Wednesday night following a screening of his Oscar-nominated film.
12 Years a Slave, the cinematic adaptation of Solomon Northup’s book depicting his years in bondage following his capture 1841, is nominated for nine Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Actor for Chiwetel Ejiofor’s performance as Northup, and Best Supporting Actress for Lupita Nyong'o’s remarkable turn as Patsey, a slave in the unfortunate position as the apple of her master’s eye.
But while his film centers specifically on the pre-Civil War American South, McQueen emphasized to the audience of diplomats, humanitarians and U.N. staffers that 12 Years a Slave is a mirror for the horrors of modern-day slavery, and the 21 million victims of human trafficking and in forced labor today.
McQueen, who sat down with MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell to discuss the film, said he wanted to make a film about a free man. After his wife found the 12 Years a Slave book on the Internet, everything fell into place.
“It’s one of those funny things, that sometimes things are just in plain sight,” McQueen said. “No one I knew knew the book. How did I not know this book?”