"12 Years a Slave"

The Utah Film Center and Grand County Public Library will be hosting a free screening of “12 Years a Slave” on Thursday, April 17 at 7 p.m. at Star Hall.

The Academy Awarding winning “12 Years a Slave” is based on the 1853 memoir of Solomon Northrup. Working as a violinist to support his wife and two children, Northrup was a pre-Civil War era African American man born free in New York. In 1841, Northrup was abducted and sold into slavery in the deep South.

During his 12 years in slavery, Northrup fought for his freedom, his dignity and to stay alive. The film follows the emotional and physical abuse Northrup endured and his passing through the control of various plantation owners. While he experienced some of the harshest cruelty, Northrup also found unexpected kindness during his servitude.

The film is being recognized for its historically accurate portrayal of slavery during a pre-Civil War America, and Sallie Hodges, the outreach coordinator for the Utah Film Center, said this was one of the reasons the film was selected for the Utah Film Circuit – Moab series.

“12 Years a Slave” is a complex film about a violent and repressive period in United States history,” she said. “It is an important film for any community, not just for its historical examinations but for future dealings with those who are different. The U.S. has a short memory when it comes to the atrocities of slavery, and through a film such as this, in its portrayal of violence and spectatorship, the brutality forces us to re-evaluate contemporary held notions around racism.”

Known for other films such as “Shameless” (2011) and “Hunger” (2008), Steve McQueen directed “12 Years a Slave,” and is the first black director to win the Academy Award for Best Picture, the highest honor at the Oscars. Writer John Ridley adapted Northrup’s memoir for the movie.

Chiwetel Ejiofor stars as Solomon Northrup. Ejiofor was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role, and he also won several other awards for the role. The film also stars Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano, Paul Giamatti, Brad Pitt, and Alfre Woodard, as well as Lupita Nyong’o, who won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in the film.

The Utah Film Center is a nonprofit organization that collaborates with organizations throughout Utah to help bring “the world of film to local audiences through free screenings and post-film discussions, outreach programs, and visiting artists and professionals.” The Grand County Public Library partnered with the Utah Film Center to create the Utah Film Circuit-Moab, which hosts monthly free film screenings for the Moab community.

“The library has been showing films for years, but because of our collaboration with the Utah Film Center, we are able to get some really big, new stuff that we might not have been otherwise able to get,” said Jessie Magleby, the library assistant for the Grand County Public Library.

A committee comprised of both the Utah Film Center and the Grand County Public Library work together to select the films. The films are selected quarterly.

“We try to focus on award winners and things that encourage social justice and awareness,” Magleby said.“12 Years a Slave” has won 132 awards as well as the three Oscars that it won.”

“12 Years a Slave” is rated R for violence, cruelty, and brief nudity. The film will start at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 17, at Star Hall, 159 E. Center St.

Oscar winner depicts slave’s fight for freedom in pre-Civil War America

12 Years a Slave” is a complex film about a violent and repressive period in United States history. It is an important film for any community, not just for its historical examinations, but for future dealings with those who are different.”

Where: Star Hall, 159 E. Center St.

When:Thursday, April 17, 7 p.m.

Cost: Free