’12 Years A Slave’ Kicks Off Stockholm Fest

Peter Greenaway will receive Stockholm's Visionary award

Stockholm film fest’s 24th edition is set to kick off with Steve McQueen’s critically-aclaimed “12 Years A Slave” and close with Stephen Frear’s “Philomena.”  The half-time film is Abdelattif Kechiche’s “Blue Is The Warmest Color.”

“Slave” is also one of the 20 films set to compete at the festival. The lineup includes numerous titles that world-preemed at Cannes (either in the official selection or at Critics Week or Director’s Fortnight), such as Amat Escalante’s “Heli,” Rebecca Zlotowski’s “Grand Central,” Anthony Chen’s “Ilo Ilo,” Ryan Coogler’s “Last Stop Fruitvale Station,” Ritesh Batra’s “The Lunchbox,” Valeria Golino’s “Miele,” Clio Barnard’s “The Selfish Giant” and David Lowery’s “A Texas Love Story.”

Based on Solomon Northrup’s autobiography, the 1850’s-set drama chronicles the gripping journey of a free black man (Chiwetel Ejiofor) who was kidnapped from his family in New York and sold into slavery in Louisiana. Ejiofor stars opposite Michael Fassbender, who plays a sadistic plantation owner.

Scribe John Ridley, who penned the adaptation, is nominated for best script.  “12 Years A Slave” already won Toronto’s people’s choice award, among other nods, and is being presented as a strong Oscar contender in multiple categories. Fox Searchlight released it on Oct. 18 in the U.S., where it’s already grossed over $923K. AB Svensk Filmindustri will release the pic in Scandinavia.

Both “Blue” and “Philomena” will play in the Open Zone section and compete for the Fipresci prize. Alexander Payne’s “Nebraska,” Jim Jarmush’s “Only Lovers Left Alive,” Dome Karukoski’s “Heart Of A Lion,” Guillaume Nicloux’ “The Nun,” Catherine Breillat’s “Abuse of Weaknesss” and Sebastian Lelio’s “Gloria,” are among the 22 pics vying for a Fipresci award.

“The spotlight of this year’s festival is freedom and it is the common thread running through the entire festival,” said festival Director Git Scheynius. “It has unfortunately proved to be a highly current topic, as our member of jury Ai Weiwei has a travel ban and cannot be present during the festival. We also recently received the news that the Iranian-German director Mohammad Rasoulof (“Manuscripts Don’t Burn”) had his passport confiscated in Iran and will not be able to leave the country.

The festival will also roll out 19 U.S. indies, as part of its American Independent section. It comprises Peter Landesman’s “Parkland,” John Krokidas’ “Kill Your Darlings,” and James Franco’s “As I Lay Dying.” Other sidebars include Latin Visions and Asian Images.

A panorama of 19 pics, Asian Images will play Erik Matti’s “On The Job,” Hoon-Jung Park’s “New World” and Sean Ellis’ “Metro Manila.”

Latin Visions will unspool 12 pics from Latin American, Portugal and Spain. Selection comprises Neto Villalobos’ “All About The Feathers,” Sebastian Silva’s “Crystal Fairy” and Daniel and Diego Vega’s “El Mudo.”

Meanwhile, Brit helmer Peter Greenaway (“The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover”) will receive the Stockholm Visionary nod on Nov.

Fest runs Nov. 6-17.

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