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Chiwetel Ejiofor & Steve McQueen Will Explore "12 Years A Slave" With Brad Pitt Producing

Photo of Tambay A. Obenson By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act August 16, 2011 at 6:38AM

Breaking from Variety:
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Breaking from Variety:

“Shame” director Steve McQueen is set to direct Chiwetel Ejiofor in “12 Years a Slave,” which Brad Pitt’s Plan B shingle is producing. Pic tells the true story of Solomon Northrup, a New York citizen who’s kidnapped in Washington in 1841 and rescued from a cotton plantation in Louisiana in 1853.

So, whoa! I know what you're thinking before you even say it... another historical narrative on black suffering; this one set during slavery. And you'd be right!

The book gives harrowing descriptions of Northrup's years in captivity, leading up to his freedom, as the title suggests.

It's certainly not the blaxploitation-inspired Django Unchained; this is actually based on a real story, written by the man himself, Solomon Northrup, which the script will be based on; and he does win in the end, using brains not brawn, at one point having to defend himself in court when he is counter-sued by the slave traders he sues in the first place for kidnapping him into slavery, though he was born free.

And with McQueen's minimalist style, I can only wonder how he'll adapt this particular story for the screen; but I'm definitely curious.

So what about the Fela biopic that Chiwetel and McQueen were working on together, which was announced a year or 2 ago? I wonder if that's still in their respective futures. Last we reported, a new writer had been hired to re-write the script, but I haven't heard much since.

No word though on when 12 Years A Slave will go into production, or when we can expect its release. Interesting Brad Pitt's interest. I wonder who initiated the project, McQueen? Pitt? Ejiofor? And can we go ahead and pencil in Chiwetel for an Oscar nomination whenever this is released?

I should note that Ejiofor is already attached to play a freed slave in a film loosely based on a book by John Eugene Cay, Jr., titled, Ducks, Dogs and Friends, set during post-Civil War, Jim Crow-era days, and which tells the story of Christmas Moultrie (the last slave born on the historical Mulberry Grove Plantation, where the Cotton Gin was invented), who hunted on the Savannah River, together with Ward Allen (to be played by James Caviezel).

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