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Steve McQueen’s ’12 Years A Slave’ *Snuck* Into The Telluride Film Festival – Screens Today!

Steve McQueen's '12 Years A Slave' *Snuck* Into The Telluride Film Festival - Screens Today!

Well, shucks! We won’t be there for it unfortunately. We may have, if I was aware that it would be screening there, but, Telluride is one of those film festivals… it traditionally doesn’t unveil its slate until attendees are well on their way to the festival. In essence, you attend the festival blindly, not knowing before you book your trip, what films will be screened, and may not even know until you get there.


Plus this is apparently a “surprise screening,” so it wasn’t even in the main lineup in the first place.

It’s been confirmed that Steve McQueen’s highly-anticipated drama 12 Years A Slave, has been added to the Telluride Film Festival lineup as a “sneak” screening, before it heads to the Toronto International Film Festival where it was scheduled to make its World Premiere, as previously announced! 

It screens TONIGHT as a matter of fact! But, as I said, S&A won’t be there.

Fortunately, I’m scheduled to see the film in about 2 weeks, so I’ll naturally be reviewing it afterward. BUT, if any of our readers happens to be at Telluride this year, email me at, and maybe you can provide us with some early words.

The film is supposed to screen tonight, so by the end of today, I’m sure reviews will start turning up on the web, giving us some idea of what to expect. The thing is, however, Telluride isn’t exactly a festival that’s heavily attended by the black press (especially since it’s rare that there are black films screening there), so I suspect that the majority of early reviews we get won’t be from black writers.

Telluride is known for being one of those early awards season predictors. It tends to screen films that are expected to be Oscar contenders.

Fox Searchlight will release the highly-anticipated drama on October 18.

It’ll open in a limited roll-out and will then expand nationwide in successive weeks. 

The R-rated slave narrative, McQueen’s 3rd feature, boasts a rather impressive cast of actors, including: Chiwetel Ejiofor (as Solomon Northup, the star of the film and whose story it tells), Michael FassbenderRuth Negga, Adepero OduyeAlfre WoodardLupita Nyong’oPaul DanoBenedict CumberbatchScoot McNairyGarret DillahuntBrad PittMichael K. Williams Paul GiamattiSarah Paulson and others. 

I expect it to be an awards season favorite, especially in key roles, both in front of and behind the camera.

Again, if any of our readers happens to be at Telluride this year, email me at, and maybe you can get us an early review.

Here’s the first trailer for the film if you missed it:

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S&A usually have their bags packed for Sundance long before they announce their list of films. The same should be done for TELLURIDE, truly Hollywood's film festival. Three of the past five Best Picture winners premiered there, one being redeemed at Telluride after being turned down by all sorts of distributors and film festivals (Slumdog Millionaire). It's THEE film festival and the best thing about them, no one knows much about it. You don't hear people talking about it and that is GREAT! Like CARERCAREY said, it's far removed from the glitz and glamour of a Cannes and/or Sundance. In the end, it is all about Telluride.

This is a good thing for 12 Years…


TELLURIDE! I have another story. I've attended that festival several times… great experience, great festival. It's far removed from the glitz and glamour of Cannes. In fact, the town (yes it's a town, not a city by any stretch of imagination) prides itself of it's old western look. Hey, we're talking in the mountains of Colorado, a place where large aircraft do not land. Not only are there no major airlines, and as Tambay noted, no black press, there's no black folks period — to speak of. One year there was me, my wife and Rodger Ebert's wife, that was the extent of the rainbow for that year. Oprah was said to have a house there but I didn't see her nor her Steadman walking around. That reminds me, the festival is such a quaint affair that walking is the chosen mode of transportation. In fact, I don't remember seeing a taxi (no way) or a bus (forget about it) or a shuttle? Nope, it's not that kind of party.

Anyway, one of the joys of the festival is it's laid back atmosphere and the accessibility of the stars. One might find themselves at a "tavern" throwing down a few with the "it" person of the month or the next big name on the horizon.

But, ending this lovely walk down memory lane, I have to tell you about my brother-n-law. Before leaving, my wife and I gave him the number of the hotel in which we'd be staying, just in case our home was burglarized or our children shot by a stray bullet (we lived in the hood). So one day he called just to see how we were doing. The phone rang at the reception desk… the clerk answered "Hello, Coonskin Inn, how can I help you?". My brother-n-law instantly hung up the phone. There was no way in hell he could settle his mind into accepting the words "Coonskin Inn" and believing his sister was actually staying there. But, for real, we did stay at the (never to go back to) Coonskin Inn.


McQueen is one of the most intriguing directors making films today, rare blend of visual artist and narrator. Hunger remains one of my all-time favorite films. I'm eager to see his treatment of this topic; dipping into the "slave genre" is not easy given the landmine of tired tropes that typically doom the storytelling with cliches. But McQueen stepped outside the box with Hunger with a fresh view of the IRA; I hope he rivals that with 12 Years….

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