’12 Years a Slave’ Named Best Picture at British Academy Film Awards

’12 Years a Slave’ Named Best Picture at British Academy Film Awards

‘Gravity’ Wins 6 Prizes

Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong'o poses for photographers on the red carpet at the EE British Academy Film Awards held at the Royal Opera House on Sunday Feb. 16, 2014, in London. (photos by Jon Furniss/ Invision/AP)
Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong’o poses for photographers on the red carpet at the EE British Academy Film Awards held at the Royal Opera House on Sunday Feb. 16, 2014, in London. (photos by Jon Furniss/ Invision/AP)

LONDON – The force of “Gravity” was strong at the British Academy Film Awards on Sunday — but it was unflinching drama “12 Years a Slave” that took the top prize.

Steve McQueen’s visceral, violent story of a free black man kidnapped into servitude in the 19th-century U.S. South was named best picture. Its star, Chiwetel Ejiofor, took the male acting trophy.

Ejiofor thanked McQueen, a visual artist who turned to filmmaking with “Hunger” and “Shame,” for bringing the story to the screen.

Holding the trophy, the British actor told McQueen: “This is yours. I’m going to keep it — that’s the kind of guy I am — but it’s yours.”

McQueen reminded the ceremony’s black-tie audience that, in some parts of the world, slavery is not a thing of the past.

“There are 21 million people in slavery as we sit here,” he said. “I just hope 150 years from now our ambivalence will not allow another filmmaker to make this film.”

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