Hollywood director Steve McQueen has been telling how he was twice overcome with emotion whilst shooting his powerful movie, 12 Years A Slave.

British-born McQueen – whose epic film is nominated for nine Oscars including Best Picture and Best Director – says he has always wanted to make a motion picture about slavery.

The film tells the true story of Solomon Northup, a black New Yorker who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in 1841.

McQueen has confided that he was overcome with emotion twice while filming – once during a scene in which one slave is forced to whip another, and the second time over what he called “the story of the hanging tree”.

He was quoted by The Sun newspaper in London as saying: “We were looking for a tree to film the hanging of slaves. We had to do it in a specific plantation because of filming schedules.

“The plantation owner, a descendent of slave owners, said ‘Yep, that’s the tree we used to hang them from – and those are their graves.”

McQueen continued: “There are ghosts – there are things there. Shooting it there meant there would be more to this scene than ever meets the eye.

“The hair stands up on the back of your neck. Before we shot the scene we said a few words, our heads were bowed, because there were ghosts – they were there.”

* You can watch news coverage of the Oscars on FilmOn on March 2. In addition to Best Picture and Best Director, 12 Years A Slave is nominated for Best Actor (Chiwetel Ejiofor), Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Michael Fassbender), Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Lupita Nyong’o), Best Cosume Design, Best Film Editing, Best Production Design and Best Adapted Screenplay. 

Steve McQueen
Oscar nominee – Steve McQueen

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