Real/Reel Impact: 12 Years a Slave–Director McQueen Addresses the United Nations

Steve McQueen, the acclaimed director of the Oscar-winning film, 12 Years A Slave, will address the United Nations diplomatic community.

The film tells the story of a free black man from upstate New York, who was abducted and sold into slavery in the pre-Civil War United States. In 2013, it won the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Drama, and the Best Director Award from the New York Film Critics Circle.

In 2014, the film also won the Producers Guild of America Award for top feature film, and the BAFTA for Best Film.

Nominated for 9 Oscars, it won Best Picture and other awards.

McQueen recently became a patron of the Organization ‘Anti-Slavery International’.

United Nations Headquarters in New York, Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Film screening at 6:30-Discussion at 8:45 p.m.


The event is part of the activities for the Commemoration of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade. The Commemoration, culminating with the International Day on 25 March, offers the opportunity to honour and remember those who suffered and died at the hands of the brutal slavery system. It also aims at raising awareness about the dangers of racism, prejudice and modern forms of slavery today.

“Slavery is mutating and re-emerging in modern forms, including debt bondage, the sale of children, and the trafficking of women and girls for sex. Its roots lie in ignorance, intolerance and greed. We must create a climate in which such abuse and cruelty are inconceivable. One way is by remembering the past and honouring the victims of the transatlantic slave trade.” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said.

For over 400 years, more than 15 million men, women and children were the victims of the transatlantic slave trade, one of the darkest chapters in human history.

In order to more permanently honor the victims, a memorial will be erected at United Nations Headquarters in New York. The winning design for the memorial, The Ark of Return by Rodney Leon, an American architect of Haitian descent, was selected through an international competition and announced in September 2013. It is hoped that the Memorial will be finalized for September 2014.