Main content

Paul Gambaccini on 12 Years A Slave, the unflinchingly brutal film about American slavery which produced the first ever black director to win a Best Picture Oscar.

Why does it take an Englishman to tackle one of the most horrific chapters in the history of the United States? Described as stark, visceral and unrelenting, "12 Years A Slave" has been hailed as "brilliant - and quite possibly essential - cinema". and it became the first film with a black director (and producer) to win the Best Picture Oscar

Paul Gambaccini talks to key personnel behind the flim and hears from its stars (both behind and in front of the camera) to find out how the film was made, including editor Joe Walker, production designers Adam Stockhausen, stars Kelsey Scott and Chiwetel Ejiofor and director Steve McQueen. And with the help of critics David Thompson, Toby Miller and Larushka Ivan-Zadeh explores what it's success at the 2014 Oscars tells us about the concerns of society an d of the Academy which in the two years that followed failed to nominate a black person for its top awards.

Producer: Paul Kobrak.

Available now

30 minutes