12 Years a Slave is a historical drama film based on the autobiography Twelve Years a Slave written Solomon Northup. It is about a free black man kidnapped in Washington D.C. after he was lured from Saratoga Springs, New York in 1841. He was then sold in to slavery where he worked on plantations of Louisiana for 12 years. 12 Years a Slave stars Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano, Paul Giamatti and Brad Pitt. Check out the latest news below:
“Interview with Steve McQueen director of 12 Years a Slave
It’s been about 3 weeks since I saw Steve McQueen’s much-ballyhooed drama 12 Years A Slave, and also about the same amount of time since I interviewed him. It’s a film that I intend to see a second time, if only to compare my reactions (to the film, as well as the reactions others have had) to the first time I saw it – reactions (certainly not all of them) that I shared during my conversation with McQueen, which led to one or two somewhat contentious exchanges, a little of which you will read in the interview below.
We’ve long been fans of Mr McQueen’s work, since his feature film debut – the provocative, unsettling, avant-garde Hunger – and have become enamored with his pragmatic, candid ways – especially when dealing with the press. But it’s one thing to observe this phenomenon from a distance, and quite another to experience it firsthand, which I had the pleasure of doing 4 Sundays ago at the Conrad Hotel in Manhattan, where the New York City press junket for 12 Years A Slave was held.
Ahead of the interview, despite the fact that I’d only been allotted 10 minutes with McQueen (about standard for junkets), being fully aware of what I was potentially up against – knowing that I was (and likely still am) in the minority, when I felt then (and still do feel now) that praise for the film has been excessive, and also being cognizant of his temperament – it was clear to me that I had to be well-prepared, given that I would be asking a few questions that would likely be considered criticisms of the film and the filmmaker. I usually am well-prepared for interviews, but, I’d readily admit that, this time, I wanted to be beyond ready. It’s called respect.
Unfortunately, given that a healthy percentage of our 10 minutes (although it would eventually be 12 minutes) was spent in dispute over some of my claims, I didn’t get to ask every single question I had for Mr McQueen.
But an interesting conversation it most certainly was – although it’s been cleaned up a bit, if only for clarity. For example, there were several situations in which our words overlapped, and it’s a challenge to convey the energy of those moments in print, and capture the body language, facial expressions, etc, which contributed significantly to the spirit of the conversation. But this is an interview transcript after all, not a screenplay.
TAMBAY OBENSON (TO): The one thing that really stuck out to me about the film is the passage of time which I didn’t quite notice. I think I wanted to feel that 12 years pass, and really feel the weight of the oppression suffered over those 12 years. But, the way the film progressed, and maybe I just missed some cues, it almost felt like it played over just a matter of weeks or even days, as opposed to 12 long years. And Like I said, maybe I missed some cues, but I really wanted to feel the oppression over that lengthy passage of time, and not necessarily anything overt.
STEVE MCQUEEN (SM): [short silence] You’re the first person to ask me that question. You know, I think I’ve done that job. I’m not interested in having a situation where you tick off one year, or two years, or three years, and by the time you get to four, you’re thinking, oh my God, there’s 8 more years left in the movie. That does a disservice to the narrative. That’s for other filmmakers to do if they want to do it. But for me, I needed to tell the time passing on the physicality of someone, on the familiarity of things in the movie that he was doing. Therefore, when you’re invested in the story, these things come about. It becomes too much of a device that doesn’t benefit the narrative. What I was interested in doing is having a dynamic narrative.”
The rest of the interview can be read at Indiewire.
12 Years a Slave is directed by Steve McQueen and is scheduled to be released on October 18th 2013.
Check out other “Drama” films right in this blog.