"12 Years a Slave."
Fox Searchlight "12 Years a Slave."

The 25th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival (PSIFF) will present Steve McQueen with the Director of the Year Award for his critically-acclaimed slavery epic “12 Years a Slave.”

“12 Years a Slave” follows the incredible true story of Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), born a free man and living with his wife and children in upstate New York only to be abruptly and brutally drugged, kidnapped and sold into slavery in Louisiana. The film chronicles Solomon’s everlasting will and struggle through his harrowing predicament to survive and return to his family unharmed and free of his shackles.The film is directed by McQueen and in addition to Ejiofor, stars Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano, Paul Giamatti, Brad Pitt and others. 

Having marked his first feature debut with the Bobby Sands I.R.A drama “Hunger”, which won the Camera d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, McQueen has only sharpened in style and subject matter with 2011’s sex addiction drama “Shame” and “12 Years a Slave.”

As Festival Chairman Harold Matzner commented on the news: “Director Steve McQueen captivates his audiences by challenging them with often unorthodox and unrelenting subject matter and technique. McQueen is a master of utilizing the senses to create the essence of his works. In his latest effort, 12 Years a Slave, audiences become integrally involved in the unbearably violent nightmare of a free black man, who is kidnapped and sold into slavery, eventually to return home to freedom.  To Steve McQueen, a soaring talent who ranks among the greats with each directorial effort, the Palm Springs International Film Festival is proud to present him the 2014 Director of the Year Award.”

The Palm Springs International Film Festival will also present awards to previously announced honorees Sandra Bullock, Bruce Dern and Matthew McConaughey. 

The festival will run from January 3-13, 2014. For Indiewire's critic Eric Kohn’s take on “12 Years a Slave” click here.