12 Years A Slave: Important Film or One Too Many Movies About Slavery?

12 Years a SlaveNovember 6, 2013 – Segment 2

We begin with a discussion of the film 12 Years A Slave. We’re joined by:


Written by Marc Steiner

Marc Steiner

The Marc Steiner Show currently airs on The Real News Network. The show covers the topics that matter, engaging real voices, from Charm City to Cairo and beyond. Email us to share your comments with us.

1 Comment

  1. Ingrid Gladden says:

    First things first – I adore Steve McQueen. I find his work beautiful; thought provoking, challenging & honest… which is not romantic nor always pleasent – but that’s life & I prefer my art to reflect truth & to always remain authentic. There is beauty in authenticity & he manages to capture the humanity in inhumane situations. I am moved to feel something and that is the idea of great film making — isn’t it.
    I was first introduced to SM with the movie “Shame”(another hard movie to watch – Mike Fassbender–WOW). After that I went back to watch “Hunger”. I simply couldn’t get enough of this guy. So when I learned that he was making “12 Years a Slave” I became obssessed with seeing the movie and every publication about it the film & Steve McQueen. I went so far as to convince 3 other co-workers to go with me to see the film.
    Like your panel – I don’t think there are enough movies about the enslavement of Africans, nor the vast black experience in America. To my knowledge there aren’t 5 major movies specifically about the enslavement of Africans. I could only think of 3. 1st, Roots was not a motion picture it was a made for TV mini saga, shocking for it’s time but definitely sanitized. And 2nd, Sankofa – but limited release without recognizable actors or a clever marketing and distribution deal like “12 Yrs had with Summitt Entertainment like “12 Yrs…” the film while important would not reach as many viewers. Lastly 3rd, Beloved – loved the book and I genuinely liked the movie (I was first in line for that too) but didn’t stay in the theaters long.. not sure what happened–beautiful performances from Danny Glover, Lisa-Gay Hamilton & Kimberly Elise & Oprah
    I am bothered by those that say “We don’t need another slavery movie or that this movie isn’t empowering”. My question is what are all the other films??? And what could be more empowering than a tale about what it really means to survive and live… We see movies about the Jewish Holocust and I never heard complaints about Schindler’s List—it was more of us scrambling to get to the movies.
    This is an important part of our “American” history for black & white people alike. I am not sure why the preference is to have our history watered down or trivilized like Django Unchained (which was not a drama about slavery rather a Spaghetti Western that took place during the time period). There is power in the truth and my anscestors that survived were of the strongest & I walked out of the movie filling empowered and proud that my ancestors “lived” & thrived builiding communities, families and leaving there legacies… definitely nothing to be ashamed of – that is precisely the story I want to see & when my daughter is old enough she will see it/as well read the book. Artistically, films like Julie Dash/”Daughters of the Dust” (One of my All time favorites), and now “12 Yrs A Slave” are must see films. I could go on about the cinematography, nuances in the film that eluded to the class system in New York (free & enslaved living along side each other) or the layered complexities that Alfre Woodard’s character addressed being the head mistress to Shaw & what it meant to be the head mistress… but I have to stop there.
    Really enjoyed the show, loved the movie and would love to hear another show on “Why these films are important”, and possibly a show on Film and the artforms predication to people of European lineage (Fuji Phenomenon)—Ann Hornaday touched on it towards the end of the show.

    Sent with Love & Gratitude.

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