Toronto: ’12 Years a Slave’ Continues Powerful Momentum with Standing Ovation

Toronto Fest embraces '12 Years'

12 Years a Slave” continued its audience momentum with an enthusiastic launch Friday at the Toronto Fest, following its big buzz at Telluride.

Hundreds of fans, five deep, lined up behind the barricades on King Street in front of the Princess of Wales Theater, all with their cell-phone cameras ready. The big lure was no doubt Brad Pitt, though Michael Fassbender got a big round of huzzahs when he appeared.

Director Steve McQueen (pictured above with Michael Fassbender) got prolonged applause when he came onstage, even before the film started. Also brought onstage were producers Pitt, Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner (all of Plan B) and Anthony Katagas, scripter John Ridley, composer Hans Zimmer, and actors Chiwetel Ejiofor, Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch (the three thesps garnering the most pre-screening applause), Lupita Nyong’o, Alfre Woodard, Paul Dano (with a cane), Paul Giamatti and Sarah Paulson.

The audience was into the Fox Searchlight-New Regency film. At one point, lead character Solomon Northrup finds a rare person who’s compassionate to his plight. When the character said he’s from Canada, the line got a smattering of applause.

After the pic  wrapped, it got a standing ovation and the team answered a few questions. Kleiner praised McQueen as a “fearless individual, fearless artist” who was incredulous that there haven’t been more films dealing with slavery. Pitt said, “If I never get to participate in a film again, this is it for me. It was a privilege.”

Asked about the cast, McQueen made a distinction between actors and artists and said he loved working with people who are “exciting, thrilling, dangerous and brave.”

When the moderator said that it was a wrap, several people in the audience shouted “No!” and many more groaned.

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  1. Jill says:

    Can’t wait to see this film, particularly for the reteaming of McQueen and Fassbender and for Ejiofor and Nyong’o as well. I hope all four of them get nominated for an Oscar; Fassbender and McQueen are way overdue.

  2. Jen says:

    Was lucky enough to see the film and it was just stunning. Genius. btw The big draw Fri night was actually not Pitt! I was there and journalists came through asking for some who were there for Pitt. 95% were there for Cumberbatch. Pitt was kind as well coming all the way along the line and we were happy to see him but the crowd was all about BC.

  3. I am so looking foward to seeing this film! I’m glad that Canada got some love at their own film festival. With SHAME and now 12 YEARS A SLAVE, McQueen and Fassbender appear to be the Scorsese & DeNiro of the 21st century. Pitt doesn’t gush too often, and McQueen seems to be swinging for the rafters this time around. Ejiofor is often amazing and newcomer Lupita Nyong’o is apparently a standout, which in a cast this strong is no mean feat! Count me in, Gunga Din!

  4. Christopher says:

    Pitt said, “If I never get to participate in a film again, this is it for me. It was a privilege.” Doesn’t get much better than that for a director. Yes… Hope McQueen gets the critical recognition he deserves in the US.

  5. Great film, good cast and a story that needed to be shared… Perfect timing for the world to see at this moment… Congrats to all involved. I look forward to helping to spread the word about this project. W Jewell Sparks….

  6. Steve McQueen is long overdue for this kind of praise. I thought he got totally snubbed for his work in “Shame” as did “Michael Fasbender”

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