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The producers of 12 Years a Slave believed in the film so strongly they, “made [it] part of our mandate,” producer Brad Pitt said of the film in The Hollywood Reporter’s Piaget Lounge at Saturday’s Independent Spirit Awards, where Slave won five awards, including best feature.

“The actors, directors that we believe in and we think are pushing the medium and more difficult material that might need that little extra push, that’s been priority number one for us, and this was quite evident from early on that [it]…was special to me, very special,” Pitt said of making the film. “I loved this film and we were going to get it done. It wasn’t without its hurdles.”

Pitt also talked about what he learned from working with director Steve McQueen, saying that in addition to realizing you can make a great film in roughly a month on a shoestring budget, as they did with Slave, he was inspired by the director’s approach to filming.

“I really took note in Steve’s confidence to hold onto a moment and letting that moment sink in to you to the point of, ‘Am I making you uncomfortable?'” the producer said. “You might come around to the other end and see the beauty of it, but that’s very unique and it’s certainly not the norm in today’s filmmaking.”

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