Directed by the British artist and film-maker Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave has gained almost universal critical praise. In his review for the New Yorker, David Denby echoed the consensus opinion when he described it as "easily the greatest feature film ever made about American slavery".
But in America many people have asked why it has taken so long for a film to do justice to the appalling plight of African America's slave ancestors and why no US film-makers have succeeded before in confronting their country's shameful past with such unflinching power and historical accuracy. Variety said it was a "disgrace" that, after so long, it has taken "a British director to stare the issue in its face".
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