12 Years a Slave, which had its Telluride Film Festival premiere on August. 30, is a new movie that focuses on the story of Chiwetel Ejiofor, who plays Northup –– a free musician residing in Saratoga, New York, who is later kidnapped and sold into slavery in the South.
Upon its debut at the Toronto Film Festival, the Steve McQueen-directed film proved to be too graphic for some moviegoers, causing audience members to walk out of the theater.
The British star actor defended the direction of the movie, telling The Independent that the brutal scenes were vital to the adaptation of Solomon Northup’s book:
Solomon’s story is full of [violence] but also full of beauty and hope and human respect and dignity. With Steve there to guide it, we weren’t afraid to explore all that, and go to those dark places.
Despite scenes that included Ejiofor being beaten 15 times with a bat and then whipped 14 times by his kidnappers, there was a 10-minute standing ovation for the pic at the festival.
Additionally, the historical drama flick won the TIFF “People’s Choice” Award over the weekend.
As for the movie’s release in the States, Fox Searchlight will premiere it in theaters on Oct. 18. Watch trailer to 12 Years a Slave in the thumbnail up top.