First look at Steve McQueen’s Twelve Years a Slave reveals the young star of Beasts of the Southern Wild, Quvenzhané Wallis, alongside Chiwetel Ejifor. Dwight Henry, who was Hushpuppie’s father Wink in Beasts, has a prominent role here as Uncle Abram.
Solomon Northup (Chiwtel Ejiofor), an educated black man with a gift for music, lives with his wife and children in Saratoga, New York. One day, when his family is out of town, he is approached by two men claiming to be circus promoters. Solomon agrees to travel with them briefly, playing the fiddle while they perform. But after sharing a drink with the men, he awakens to find he has been drugged and bound and faces a horrifying reality: he is being shipped to the South as a slave. No one listens to Solomon’s claim that he has papers proving his status as a free man. Despairing, he plots his escape, only to be foiled at every turn. He is sold to WILLIAM FORD, a kindly mill owner who appreciates Solomon’s thoughtful nature. But Ford is forced to sell him to a cruel master who subjects him and other slaves to unspeakable brutality.