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

‘12 Years Slave' Star Backs Out

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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  1. julius ceasar says:

    American racists invade Italy

  2. julius ceasar says:

    Italy takes in more Africans refugees than Hollywood or Oprah. African Americans
    Take the brick off the shouider

  3. Rick says:

    Answer: $$$

  4. Giampiero says:

    During soccer matches the monkey sound is done only for a black player of opposite team. And it’s possible that in your team is also present a black player.
    Some supporters are stupid.

  5. arshadfilms says:

    Shameful. What was the marketing company thinking?

  6. What oppression! Oh the humanity! the brother’s pic ain’t on the poster. Take to the streets, protest! What a load of manure. Another movie about how evil whites are and were and the “star’ frets about posters. Hollywood again makes a movie catering to blacks kissing butt and patronizing blacks and this prima donna is upset over a poster. No doubt the flick will garner loads of awards for again reminding us what a bad country we are, never mind present day Africa where genocide, tribal massacres, corruption, disease, wars, flourish. No, what matters is that the USA had slavery over 140 years ago and many died to end it, except of course for black NBA players.

  7. hobbledeehoy says:

    Honestly if the object is for people to actually see the film, put Brad Pitt on the cover. But if that’s not the object, then by all means put the no-name guy on there. It’s called marketing, people.

  8. T says:

    Wow, some pretty stuck up people here. When 12 Years A Slave came out, I actually had no clue that Brad Pitt was in it. Just because he is a “mega star” doesn’t mean he should be the center of attention on the poster.

    And this article is crap. I don’t even see any statements or comments from Lupita about her appearance and you people all make such rude comments. You want people to respect the right to put Brad Pitt on the poster, but you don’t want to respect Lupita for making a personal choice? Unbelievable.

  9. McCollum says:

    Spot on James! Millions of American whites also supported and/or marched for black equality during the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. Without overwhelming white support, the Civil Rights movement and legislation would have never come to fruition. That also seems to be forgotten.

  10. ted says:

    Whitey is getting pissed off at being blamed for everyone’s problems.

  11. davey goliath says:

    I’ll bet, given the choice to between being on the teaser posters and have the movie do so-so, or allow Brad Pitt to be on the posters in order to create a buzz, for her to become rich, famous, and be nominated for an Oscar, Chiwetel Ejiofor would choose the latter.

  12. I guess none of you folks have been to Italy before….

    A minority of Italian folk are pretty racist against black folk. They feel like black immigrants are taking their jobs and mooching off the Italian system. Two examples:

    Their first black government minister, Cecile Kyenge, had bananas thrown at her during her inauguration. Ugh.

    There soccer games are even worse, with the whole stadium making monkey sounds when black players take the field. They also sell bananas to throw in the stadium. Double Ugh.

    Its institutionalized and normalized behavior. Italian women do love the black men though… it almost makes up for it.

  13. Steve says:

    I am sick of hatred toward whites

  14. Tim Norman says:

    It is this sort of things that infuriates people. This reverse racism. Promoting Brad Pitt on the poster had nothing to do with color but everything to do with promotion and making money….the whole reason the movie was made in the first place. The reason every actor and actress will be paid. Brad Pitt is a much bigger star.

  15. Rowwdy Colt says:

    I never heard of some of these actors. I suspect others haven’t either. So who be the draw to get people see the movie?

  16. Ron says:

    I wouldn’t really call it racism.

    They are the highest-billed or most popular actors. If I want a movie to gain traction on foreign soil, I might market two of the most well-known names in the game right now. Everyone in the media is so over-sensitized that we are going reverse-racism now, which is equally just as bad.

    Also, I do like the star of the film, he’s been amazing in every movie I have seen him in.

  17. JRCauldwell says:

    Can we get a little break from the hurt feelings and discrimination charges? It’s just a “movie” Slavery in the U.S. has been over for 150 years. It’s not practiced in Italy. Grow a pair.

  18. jeinck says:

    Well I’ll have to admit—the movie poster is ridiculous. All it’s going to do is upset people when they see the movie and only see 5 minutes worth of Brad Pitt. I guess anything to make a buck. Also I have to say why all the negative comments toward Chiwetel Ejiofor and Lupita Nyong’o. Their performances were incredible. And there was no mention in the article of any of the actors even commenting on the poster. The author of the article throws on a flashy title and everyone believes it.

  19. It seems to me that Brad Pitt was a marketing choice, not a politically correct choice. Regarding not forgetting the past, Mr. Long, whites and blacks have forgotten the past. No one seems to remember the fact that the first slaves in America were white. No one remembers why Ireland Catholics hate Cromwell so much, and how they were shipped off to Barbadoes and America to work as slaves and were sold for much less than black slaves and thus were considered lower than the more expensive black slaves who if they did not like the way they were being treated would say they were being treated as an Irish. Ever hear of red legs? None of this diminishes the suffering of blacks and their slavery does not diminish the suffering of white slaves. All races have suffered under slavery, and how the blacks have come to own it as if they were singled out is because we have forgotten history. Just go look up, “We were white and we were slaves”.

  20. fo-real says:

    when will they make another “Friday” movie???

  21. bert says:

    It makes me wonder if Chiwetel Ejiofor wanted “his” movie to be a condemnation of slavery or just a condemnation of caucasians?
    What does the color of the actor on the poster really matter as it relates to this day and age unless you’re a racist?

  22. Yilley says:

    Given the movie subject and title, the poster is definitely odd. But not atypical. The poster is intended to sell tickets and Pitt must be the top draw (in this movie) for ticket sales in Italy. There are often several versions of posters made depending on geography of distribution. I was in Costa Rica when ‘Men in Black’ came out and you would not have known anyone was in the film except Will Smith based on those posters. It’s often a sex symbol – regardless of the starring or supporting role they play – that is the poster subject. .

  23. Thad Martin says:

    Brad Pitt and the producers of this movie might not be racist, but most of the commenters here sure are.

  24. ernaldo says:

    I’m not going to attend the premier either….

  25. Timothy James says:

    Well Mr. Will Robertson…You’re so ambitious, aren’t you? You know what you look like to me, with your good bag and your cheap shoes? You look like a rube. A well-scrubbed, hustling rube, with a little taste. Good nutrition’s given you some length of bone, but you’re not more than one generation from poor white trash, are you, Mr. Robertson? And that accent you’ve tried so desperately to shed – pure West Virginia. What does your father do? Is he a coal miner? Does he stink of the lamp? You know how quickly the boys found you. All those tedious, sticky fumblings in the back seats of cars, while you could only dream of getting out. Getting anywhere, getting any where but where you are right now by clicking links on the Drudge Report.

  26. frank says:

    When you are a raceist. You see raceism everywhere.

  27. Morayo says:

    Perhaps I misread something in the article because it seems the amount of vitriol I’m reading in these comments are a tad unnecessary and presumptuous. It seems no one from the film attended the screening. Perhaps, Ms. Nyong’o, like the others, has a busy schedule or her management team or personal life required her to be elsewhere. Also, being that neither the actress nor her management is quoted in the article, it seems unlikely she was making any sort of political, racial or “diva” statement. It’s possible many of those commenting simply assume she was because of the provocative way the author (or his editors) chose to write the title. While it’s always tempting to sound off to score racial or political points, I think our society would fare far better if we tried to relax more, read for facts, then comment.

    • Joda says:

      You, sir, are the only sane individual on this thread, and I would go so far as to call you wise. This article is nothing more than a propaganda piece designed to cause more division between the people. Divide and conquer, make the masses angry at each other, so that they don’t see what their overlords are doing to them.

  28. liptakular says:

    I keep hearing the convenient excuse that Pitt is a bigger star, so therefore he’s on the poster. Complete Lack of respect for Ejiofor aside, tell me how Twilight had two no name actors on their poster and sold plenty of tickets?

    • Joda says:

      In the case of Twilight, it was already a huge money maker before the movies, because of the books. The Twilight series was the most popular tween book series since Harry Potter, so they could have put anyone in the movies and still made bank.

  29. Ban says:

    OH PLEASE Miss Diva! You know, we know that this is nothing more than an attempt at getting attention…give us all a break with the agenda-driven righteous indignation. Pfffft!

    • Truth Powell says:

      Liptakular: Great point completely devoid of any common sense or rational thought. The word “Twilight” was all that needed to be on the poster. It was a popular book marketed to teeny boppers. Apples and Oranges.

  30. belgrave place says:

    I missed something. Steve McQueen????

  31. anderson.john@gmail.com says:

    It’s because receipts for tix by white people suck when it’s a black person on the poster, and they no that. Follow the money people.

  32. Randall says:

    The poster suggests that Brad Pitt was the slave.

  33. The Usual Suspect says:

    Ha, if they made a movie of my life story (not likely) and I played myself in the staring role Brad Pitt would still get top billing. Who ever heard of either of these two? (probably fine actors) The reality is Brad Pitt will sell the tickets and make money for the studio and these “stars” will get their due from awards, acolades and such. Get over it.

  34. Truth Powell says:

    The main African character is prominently featured on the poster. It’s not racism, just unscrupulous marketing. In these instances, why doesn’t the company explain this instead of bowing down to the pressure? We’re fostering a culture of irrational thought.

  35. coco says:

    They always use the biggest star on the posters, whether they are the main character or not. Has nothing to do with racism, has to do with getting people in the seats. Man, am I getting sick of hearing this battle cry.

  36. August West says:

    but it will be received as a documentary

  37. witin9 says:

    You nailed it, RIch.

  38. Harry Taft says:

    I saw Chewitol Ejiofor (sp?) in a British series on one of the cable channels. He’s a fine actor. Perhaps this entire tempest is a desire to capture attention for the film in much the way the A&E v Duck Dynasty matter increased interest in the coming season for their production. “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” (Wilde? Shaw?).

  39. Retrometas says:

    The blacks need to understand: its all about ascetics. Brad Pitt, whatevet you think of him, is a better poster boy for a movie than the blacks. And he’ll sell more tickets. This is after all a business. The blacks will get expisure they couldnt possibly get on their own because they’re in a Brad Pitt movie.

  40. It’s about name recognition no one has ever heard of her. Course today everything Is racism.

  41. Kent says:

    When she commands the salary and has the fan base of Pitt THEN she can whine.

  42. steven ball says:

    She is quite the diva isn’t she

  43. LC says:

    How dare they try to capitalize on Brad Pitts fame. Why even put brad on the poster. Just put the no name actor. Makes total sense.

  44. oddy says:

    Same thing happened with that film about the Aborigines singers. The manager had the spot light while the ladies were in the background. Besides this pure marketing.

  45. The hate being spewed on this page by people completely ignorant about the film is sickening. If you’d bothered to even read the synopsis (Heaven forbid the BOOK), you would understand why there was such outrage over the Brad Pitt image. Its the TRUE story of a free Black man who was stolen and sold into slavery. Mr. Pitt (and I’m a fan) possibly appears in 5 minutes of the film, so he was probably just as surprised to be the subject of the poster as the rest of the stars. Chiwetel Ejiofor (the STAR) was incredible, AND appears in each and every scene. Lupita Nyong’o (the subject of your racist barbs) was astonishing in this film – a film that apparently NONE of the people commenting here have even taken the time to see. If you don’t have a reference point, why are you commenting? Please. Check your racism at the door.

    • Buyanest says:

      Dear makingmusicmyway, what you don’t seem to understand is that no one cares how long Mr. Pitt was in the Movie. At least no one in Italy. If Lupita Nyongo decided not to attend the event because of her “slight” that’s her prerogative. She would have been more effective had she not made such a race war over it, and realized that more people would flock to see Mr. Pitt in the movie (with his image as the attraction they knew), and THEN, they would have learned of her “plight”! But oh no, let’s make a war on race about it. And then when it’s a war on race, complain about the war on race! Give me a break!

    • Dave says:

      Have you ever considered taking a job in marketing?. . . . . . .Don’t!

  46. Nate says:

    Why is Everything black and white ugggggggggggg. People seem to think that if something happens it just HAS TO BE RACISM. What if they just needed big star names To help sell it in Italy? What if Samuel L Jackson and Denzel Washington were in the movie with supporting roles and their names and images were blown up but not some unknown actor named Chiwetel Ejiofo, whether he was Black or white? So tired of life.

  47. Jacob says:

    They don’t realize it’s because Brad Pitt is a megastar?

    If Denzel had co-starred in Brad Pitt’s place, I guarantee you they would have still showcased Denzel’s beautiful, black, megastar face.

    We’re dealing with the god of sex here, not the eugenicist one.

  48. KEKE says:

    admitting to reverse racism just means whites are the source of racism

  49. ajbruno14 says:

    As long as people continue see the world through colored glasses stories like this will be reported again and again.

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