West Indian Takes Home Golden Globe’s Top Motion Picture Honor for “12 Years a Slave”

Steve McQueen, right, Chiwetel Ejiofor, left, and Brad Pitt arrive at the 25th annual Producers Guild of America Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif. on Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)
Steve McQueen, right, Chiwetel Ejiofor, left, and Brad Pitt arrive at the 25th annual Producers Guild of America Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif. on Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)

by Tony Best
Special to the NNPA from the New York Carib News

The Golden Globes, second only to the Academy Awards in importance and appeal to the worldwide movie industry, has crowned a Caribbean producer and director as the creator of this year’s best film.

Steve McQueen, the director of the highly acclaimed movie, “12 years a Slave,” walked away with the “Best Motion Picture” drama award given by the Golden Globes. The film is being hailed across the United States, Canada, Britain, Africa, Europe, the Caribbean and elsewhere for its portrayal of the true story of a free man Solomon Northrup, who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in the United States in the 19th century.

McQueen, born in England of Trinidadian and Grenadian parents, showed little disappointment after his film was nominated in seven categories but won in only one, said that the award of the top prize caught him by surprise.

“I’m going to forget someone,” said McQueen as surveyed the audience during the glittering internationally televised awards show that was seen in almost every corner of the globe. “I’m so sorry. I wasn’t expecting this.”

Later he told reporters backstage that the 19th century period covered in the film was “overlooked in a way” but he was “just so happy that the public has received the film so well in Europe and the United States. It’s exhilarating really.”

Asked if he was looking ahead to the Oscar’s McQueenbackstage after the presentation if he was looking forward to the Oscars, said “I’m actually happy with this one right now.”

The 71st annual Golden Globes held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills in California chose “12 Years a Slave” for the Best Picture over “Captain Phillips,” “Gravity,”  “Philomena”  and “Rush.” The McQueen film was long considered a front-runner in the race for the best picture and its victory on Sunday means it’s the movie to beat in the race for the Oscar. It made its debut last August at the Telluride Film Festival but had its official premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival a month later. It was McQueen’s third film, behind “Hunger” and “Shame” and “Hunger.”

“My parents are from Grenada, my mother and father, you know, this is the place where Malcolm X’s mother was born,” McQueen explained earlier. “My mother was born in Trinidad “the phrase Black power” was born in Trinidad. Harry Belafonte is from Jamaica. Marcus Garvey is from the West Indies. And there’s a huge majority of my family living in the United States, so it’s a little bit more complex than that. It’s not being a Brit, it’s about being a part of that sort of diaspora.

“My trajectory, as such, of being introduced to slavery was fairly immediate because my parents were from the West Indies,” he added. “And you know, at school there was reference to slavery but not much. So, it’s one of things which I found out through my parents and obviously traveling back to the West Indies.

The movie’s star, Chiwetel Ejiofor, who was nominated in the individual Best Actor category didn’t take home a Globe, said that his work on the movie has made a lasting impression on him.

“It was always a story about human respect and human dignity and what those things really mean,” Ejiofor said. “It’s had a huge impact on me, on my life, just telling the story and learning about the story.”

Another star in the movie, Michael Fassbender, shared that experience and had nothing but words of praise for McQueen.

“Steve changed mu life,” said Fassbender,” He’s a wonderful storyteller, a wonderful leader, a wonderful human being. I love him to death.”

McQueen returned the compliments.

“I chose the best actors for the roles and they showed up and delivered every day,” was the way he put it. “And not only did they turn out to be among the most amazing actors, but they are the best people.”

The Golden Globes are voted for by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. It is one of Hollywood’s biggest and most glamorous events.

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