Director Steve McQueen has spoken candidly about his latest film, 12 Years A Slave, and how it goes drastically against the grain to what audiences, as well as studio chiefs in Hollywood, are used to seeing: a brutally honest depiction of slavery. In a recent interview with the BBC, McQueen discussed Hollywood's tendancy to sugarcoat America's dark past and considers his film a wake-up call to those who still have their heads buried in the ground.

Chiwetel Ejiofor
Chiwetel Ejiofor has won wide-spread plaudits for his depiction of Northup

The new film, which is widely considered the front-runner to take home all the major prizes when awards season gets going, tells the real life story of free man Solomon Northup. Northup, played by the outstanding Chiwetel Ejiofor; another front-runner for awards glory, is a middle class free-born musician living in New York in pre-Civil War America. In 1841 he is kidnapped and sold into slavery into the the Antebellum South , where he spends ten years at the mercy of his slave masters in the backwards land.

"You think you have an idea of what slavery is, but often you don't," McQueen told the BBC's Will Gompertz on BBC Radio 4's Today earlier this week. He added that he had planned to "open our eyes to history" with his latest film, going on to say that he believes the reason it has taken so long for the subject of slavery to become so openly remembered is because of the "shame" felt towards the matter, as so many still "want to sweep it under the carpet."

Michael Fassbender
Michael Fassbender is also being praised for his ruthless depiction of slave owner Edwin Epps

The director went on to commend the influence of President Barrack Obama for spurning on this interest of slavery and then addressed the awards buzz surrounding the film, claiming that no matter what the result wield by the start of March, McQueen feels as though he has already won because he has been allowed to direct the movie he wanted to make.

12 Years A Slave arrives in cinemas on 10 January.

Watch the trailer for 12 Years A Slave