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HindustanTimes Thu,21 Aug 2014

12 Years A Slave causes racial uproar, lead cast boycotts screening

Gautaman Bhaskaran, Hindustan Times   December 28, 2013
First Published: 16:34 IST(28/12/2013) | Last Updated: 17:24 IST(28/12/2013)

Incredible as it may sound, a Hollywood film that tackled black slavery in the 1800s America caused a racial uproar in Italy. The movie, 12 Years A Slave – one of the hot favourites this year – kicked off the 18th Capri Hollywood Film Festival in Italy on Friday night.

 
But the movie’s black lead stars did not attend the opening ceremony of the Festival. They were protesting against the film poster which displayed Brad Pitt and Michael Fassbinder, playing relatively minor roles in 12 Years A Slave. The lead black star, Chiwetel Ejiofor, was hardly in focus in the poster.
 
Ejiofor -- essaying a free black slave in New York who is kidnapped by southern cotton plantation owners and forced into slavery – skipped the inauguration.
 
And so did Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong’o, nominated for a Golden Globe for portraying Patsy in the movie.
 
12 Years A Slave is tipped to clinch awards, both at the Golden Globes and Oscars.
 
The movie’s Italian distributor, BIM Distribuzione, who will release 12 Years A Slave in the country on February 20, has since then tendered an apology and pulled out the racially discriminative poster. Instead, the original publicity material created for the American release of the film will now be used in Italy.
 
Although  racism and human rights are the dominant themes in this edition of the Festival, racial discrimination may not have been the motive for BIM Distribuzione to have had a poster with Pitt and Fassbinder. All said and done, these two men are far better known than Ejiofor, certainly in Italy, and the primary objective of any distributor is to catch the eye of prospective audiences. And Pitt and Fassbinder are great crowd pullers, any day. Yes, the distributor, in the bargain, was undoubtedly insensitive to black sentiments.

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