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‘12 Years a Slave’ Star Backs Out of Italian Premiere Following Poster Controversy

Lupita Nyong'o had been scheduled to attend the "Slave" Italo preem

The Italian premiere of “12 Years a Slave” officially kicked off Italy’s 18th annual Capri Hollywood film festival on Friday without talent in tow, following controversy sparked by the pic’s teaser posters that placed the focus on Brad Pitt and Michael Fassbender rather than Chiwetel Ejiofor, the star of the film.

As previously reported, Italo distributor BIM Distribuzione, which will release the Steve McQueen-helmed drama in Italy on Feb. 20, has apologized, pulled the posters that sparked a racial discrimination uproar on the Internet, and announced they will be using the original U.S. materials for “Slave,” translated into Italian, for the pic’s Italo campaign going forward.

Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong’o, who is nominated for a Golden Globe for her role as Patsey in “Slave” and had been expected to attend the “Slave” Italo bow in Capri to introduce the pic, bowed out of the event. No reason was given.

However, a robust contingent of Hollywood and international stars is set to disembark on the Italo isle for the Dec. 27-Jan. 2 event, which is packed with Oscar hopeful titles this year. 

Ironically, racism and human rights are dominant themes at Capri’s current edition.

Upcoming screenings include Italo bows of “The Butler,” sans talent, and Nelson Mandela biopic “A Long Walk to Freedom,” with stars Idris Elba and Naomie Harris in tow along with Harvey Weinstein, whose TWC is releasing the pic Stateside.

Other confirmed Capri guests include Somali-American actor, director and producer Barkhad Abdi for “Captain Philips,” in which Abdi stars as a ship hijacker and pirate leader; thesp Chris Cooper for “August: Osage County,” which is having its European preem at the fest; and Capri regulars Terry Gilliam, Michael Radford and producer Mark Canton. Helmer David O. Russell, whose “American Hustle” is unspooling on the isle, was in Capri to receive a nod before the start of the event. 

The ample list of expected Italian guests includes helmer Paolo Sorrentino, whose “The Great Beauty” is a hot foreign-Oscar contender this year; Valeria Golino; Italo A-lister Riccardo Scamarcio; helmer Roberto Faenza; and Venice Golden Lion winner Gianfranco Rosi (“Sacro GRA”).

Headed by Pascal Vicedomini, a journo with pubcaster RAI, Capri Hollywood is a sister fest of Los Angeles-Italia and Ischia Global, all dedicated to establishing a creative and business bridgehead between Hollywood and Italy’s showbiz community.

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