Steve McQueen’s 12 Years A Slave has been named best picture at the Oscars.
McQueen, the modern artist and film-maker won the prize for his film which is based on the story of a free New Yorker, Solomon Northup (played by Chiwetel Ejiofor), kidnapped and sold into slavery in the Deep South of the United States.
His win is a historic breakthrough for black film-maker: none has ever been honoured in this category and only two others have even been nominated – John Singleton in 1992 for Boyz n the Hood and Lee Daniels in 2009 for Precious.
Brad Pitt, who helped produce the film, praised the man who “brought us all together to tell that story – that is the indomitable Mr Steve McQueen”. McQueen, a Londoner who now lives in Amsterdam, thanked his wife who first showed him a copy of Northup’s original story for “unearthing this treasure for me”. He said: “Everyone deserves not just to survive but to live. This is most important legacy of Solomon Northup. I dedicate this award to all the people who have endured slavery and 21 million people who still suffer slavery today”.