Northwestern to screen 12 Years a Slave

Northwestern College will present a viewing of the acclaimed film “12 Years a Slave” on Sunday, Feb. 23, at 2 p.m. and Monday, Feb. 24, at 7 p.m. in the England Theatre of the DeWitt Theatre Arts Center. These screenings are free and open to the public.

Based on a true story, the film follows Solomon Northup, a free African-American man from upstate New York who is abducted and sold into slavery. Northup endures 12 years of slavery before meeting a Canadian abolitionist who changes the course of his fate. The film, directed by Steve McQueen, won the 2014 Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture-Drama, earned nine Oscar nominations and seven Golden Globe nominations, and has grossed over $100 million since opening last October.

“We’re bringing this film to the campus community now, during Black History Month, because it’s a very important film to see in order to remember the horrible institution that slavery was,” says Kevin McMahan, associate dean for intercultural development at Northwestern. “It helps us to recognize that slavery de-humanized everyone it touched, both black and white.”

While the film may contain a powerful message, it has been rated R for graphic violence and brutal content. “It’s very well done, but I would not call it ‘entertaining,’” says McMahan. “We’re showing it for free because it could be too easily ignored by those who would prefer not to take a hard look at this ugly yet significant part of our national story.”