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The movie of movies at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival is Steve McQueen’s “12 Years a Slave,” which was nurtured along the way by Plan B producer Dede Gardner and her partner, Brad Pitt, who co-stars in the film with Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender and Benedict Cumberbatch. I interviewed Gardner for a TIFF Industry Q & A, below.

Anne Thompson: When you showed the film at Telluride were you worried?

Dede Gardner: Yes. I was always worried. I get really anxious because it’s your life, you know. I’ve had movies that I really love, and no one sees them, so you think, “I could be crazy,” and you don’t know. It’s nerve-wracking, sure.

AT: Here you are at TIFF with “12 Years a Slave.” It’s so powerful and immersive and it puts you through the pain. It doesn’t spare you. How did you get involved?

DG: That was a quintessential case of what we do. We saw “Hunger” and I couldn’t breathe. I thought it was one of the most amazing films I’d seen in a long time. We reached out to Steve McQueen and said, “you don’t know us and you’re new to the system but we want to work with you, and to trust us.” You start talking and feeling out one another’s overlap, where your interests are as human beings and artists and as people who love film. He said, “why don’t you think there’s ever been a movie about the institution of slavery per se? There have been movies about singular events but never one that really presents a survey.” We said we didn’t know. I was troubled at the question and said, “why don’t we try?” So that’s the beginning.

Read more. Interesting interview!

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Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave has won the ‘People’s Choice Award’ at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival.

The film, starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender and Benedict Cumberbatch, secured this year’s prize ahead of runners-up Philomena and Prisoners.

The winners of the Toronto ‘People’s Choice Award’ have often gone on to secure a nomination for ‘Best Picture’ at the Academy Awards the following year.

Previous winners of the prize include Silver Linings Playbook, The King’s Speech and Slumdog Millionaire.

12 Years a Slave tells the true story of Solomon Northup (Ejiofor), a free man sold into slavery and made to work on a Louisiana plantation for 12 years.

Brad Pitt, Paul Giamatti, Paul Dano, Sarah Paulson, Alfre Woodard, Dwight Henry, Quvenzhane Wallis, Lupita Nyongo, Scoot McNairy, Michael Kenneth Williams and Garret Dillahunt also feature in the star-studded lineup.

12 Years a Slave will get a limited release in the US on October 18, and will arrive in the UK on January 24, 2014.

Read more. Thanks Nikki.

The news of Charlie Hunnam’s casting as Christian Grey in the upcoming film adaptation of E L James’ “Fifty Shades of Grey” continues to have Hollywood – and fans – buzzing.

And while the fan debate rages on, as to whether Charlie – perhaps best known for his role as Jackson “Jax” Teller on FX’s “Sons of Anarchy” – is the right choice, at least one fellow big screen leading man is lending Charlie his full support.

“I know Charlie, he’s a great guy!” Brad Pitt beamed to Access Hollywood at the Toronto Film Festival, when asked for his thoughts about the “Fifty Shades” casting news.

“He’s a good egg and one of the guys that are putting story and craft first,” Brad continued of Charlie, who many have said looks a lot like Brad. “I hope good things for him.”

In fact, Brad’s production company Plan B is slated to produce a vampire film “Vlad,” for which Charlie wrote the screenplay.

As for Brad, he was in Toronto promoting his new drama “12 Years A Slave,” in which he plays Samuel Bass – a Canadian abolitionist who helps Solomon Northrup (played by Chiwetel Ejiofor) gain his freedom after being kidnapped and sold into slavery in New York in 1841.

“It’s an incredible movie. It’s a very special film, it’s a rare film – it’s why we all get into the business,” Brad said of his new film.

While Brad was busy promoting the film in Toronto, Angelina Jolie was in Australia, along with the couple’s six children.

“Yeah, she’s got her hands full,” Brad joked with Access. “I’m actually jealous.”

Read more. Thanks Nikki.

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Abi Lingwood who used to attend Newland Girls’ School in Farm Road met the actor at the five star Stoke Park hotel in Stoke Poges on Friday.
The 28-year-old was having her reception after getting married to husband Daniel, 41, when they ran into Brad who is filming Second World War thriller Fury at Pinewood Studios.
She said: “My husband said to me Brad Pitt was at the bar and you have got to come with me so he dragged me across the hotel.
“I thought he was joking.”
The former Furze Platt and Cippenham resident said a friend of their’s had a professional camera and asked the 49-year-old if he would pose for a photo with the newlyweds.
Abi said: “He said sure, no problem and said congratulations and I hope you have had a great day and lets have a picture.
“And he said I looked nice.
“He was really nice.”

Read more. I can see how her wedding was the most wonderful day of her life ^^ Thanks Nikki.

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Brad Pitt may be one of Hollywood’s recognizable faces but it’s his work off-camera that’s keeping his career ticking at an alarming rate.

“12 Years a Slave,” the 19th century drama from director Steve McQueen, has garnered Oscar buzz after receiving not one but two standing ovations in less than a week, the latest at the Toronto Film Festival on Friday.

“It’s pretty special,” Brad Pitt said of the strong reaction to the drama, which the actor not only co-starred in but also produced through his Plan B banner.

“It’s one of those rare moments where story, performance and storytelling come together at the level,” he added from the Variety Studio. “We’re very proud of it.”

Starring Chiwetel Ejiofor and Michael Fassbender, “12 Years a Slave” is based on the novel by John Ridley and tells the true story of Solomon Northrop, a free black man who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in the 1840s.

“Ultimately what it’s reminding us is our responsibility to take care of each other,” he said of the film’s civil themes.

Producer Jeremy Kleiner, co-president of Plan B, initially reached out to McQueen, along with Pitt and Plan B’s Dede Gardner, after the director’s first feature “Hunger” and asked him what he’d like to do next.

“The fact that there hadn’t been more films about slavery didn’t make sense for him,” Kleiner said, which led to McQueen’s wife stumbling upon the book.

“Our early mandate was to work with directors and storytellers we found complex and (who) might need a little help getting over the hill,” Pitt said of his company.

Gardner, who helped oversee production on the shoot, said the goal for Plan B and Fox Searchlight was always simple: to make it bullet-proof.

“From the beginning the idea was to get the movie far enough down the field to make it undeniable, to get it to a point where no one could poke holes in it,” she said.

So far, they’ve managed to do just that.

Read more.

Brad Pitt wants to bring more awareness to human trafficking.

The scruffy blond-haired star was at the Princess of Wales Theatre Friday for the TIFF red carpet premiere of biopic 12 Years a Slave, the story of Solomon Northup, a free black man from upstate New York who was sold into slavery during the pre-Civil War era in the U.S.

“Why aren’t there more films about American slavery?” Pitt asked reporters at the screening.

“It’s such a part of our history and part of our DNA, something you can’t deny and in some ways, though we think we understand it and settled it, maybe we haven’t.”

Pitt plays Samuel Bass, a Canadian carpenter in the film, alongside Michael Fassbender — who plays Edwin Epps, a cruel plantation owner — and Benedict Cumberbatch as William Ford, a Baptist preacher and a slave owner.

And while Pitt said as “brutal” as the content is, it’s a “beautiful film.”

“The thing this film does is remind us of our humanity and our responsibility to each other,” he said. “In no other time in the history of this world have there been more people enslaved than today at this time. That’s an incomparable stat.”

Read more.

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TORONTO — The upcoming film “12 Years a Slave” is a harrowing look at slavery, but its stars, including Brad Pitt, say it’s a subject that needs to be explored more on the big screen.

Pitt, whose Plan B company produced the film about a free man sold into slavery, was at its premiere at the Toronto Film Festival. Pitt said he was first drawn to the film because of its British director, Steve McQueen, known for such films as “Hunger” and “Shame.”

“We started talking to him about what he most wanted to do next and he asked the question, asked the question that no American asked, why aren’t there more films about slavery?” Pitt recalled on Friday night. “And that’s what he wanted to do. And that’s where it started and that’s what led us here tonight.”

Read more.

• x063 September 06 – Twelve Years a Slave – Toronto, Canada.
• x001 September 06 – Twelve Years a Slave (Portrait) – Toronto, Canada. Thanks Gabriella.

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