The lucky folks in Telluride are the envy of the cinephile community tonight, as “12 Years a Slave” has its unofficial world premiere with a sneak preview at the festival. It will, of course, go on to Toronto for its formal unveiling, but by that point, many key critics will have already had their say, and a reputation will already be forming.
Now comes the news that Steve McQueen’s latest will also be heading to the New York Film Festival, where it’ll be presented in association with Film Comment magazine. “Slave” has enough self-generated prestige that it can afford to miss a stop or two along the way, but it’s working the fall festival circuit hard. It could have had the full house, too: I’m told that it was the one title that Venice director Alberto Barbera really fought and failed to secure, but Fox Searchlight presumably felt that, despite McQueen’s Euro-fest track record, Telluride-Toronto would be the best launchpad for this heavy Oscar hopeful.
The NYFF date, which also marks its US premiere, is on October 8, ten days before it hits US theaters. McQueen will be on hand to present the film, along with stars Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Lupita Nyong”o, Adepero Oduye, Paul Dano and Alfre Woodard.
Fil Comment editor Gavin Smith explained his magazine’s involvement, saying, “This is a powerful work about a subject that remains vital and I have no doubt that it”s one of the year”s most important films.” McQueen added, “For me, this feels like a true home-coming for Solomon as he was from New York and I’m delighted that his story can be celebrated here.”
Look out for our first reaction to “12 Years a Slave” later tonight.