Guest post by Steve McQueen, director of the film 12 Years a Slave. He has been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Director.

Slavery is a huge hole in the canvas of cinema, and for me it needed to be visualised. If we don’t know our past, we have no foundation for the future. That is why I made 12 Years a Slave, a film about Solomon Northup, who was kidnapped into slavery 160 years ago. I am very happy with the attention the film has received, more so, I am elated that Solomon Northup, 150 years after writing about his experiences, is known to the broader public. It is a huge honor for me that the film will be shown at the UN in the context of the commemorative activities for the International Day of Remembrance for the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

Unfortunately, slavery is not only something of the past. When I first learned that there are now 21 million people enslaved today, I was astonished and terrified. Have we learned nothing from the past?

I hope my film can make people aware of the plights of modern victims of slavery.

Thankfully today there are organizations like Polaris Project and Anti Slavery International who are devoted and determined to bring modern slavery to an end. I am proud to be part of that effort as Patron of Anti-Slavery International and an Ambassador to the Polaris Project.


Tune in on Wednesday, 26 February at 8:30 pm EDT to watch the live webcast of Steve McQueen discussing the film at United Nations Headquarters in New York.

Get additional updates on the “Remember Slavery” Facebook page.

Images courtesy Fox Searchlight Pictures