Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Michael Fassbender star in 12 Years a Slave – trailer

Brad Pitt and Paul Giamatti also appear in the film about Solomon Northup, a free man who was captured and sold into slavery

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A stellar cast, including Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt and Sherlock’s Benedict Cumberbatch, make their appearance in the first trailer for Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave.

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The film, which is lining itself up for awards season success with an autumn release in the US, has teased a two-and-a-half minute trailer – and it certainly looks promising.

The film tells the real-life story of Solomon Northup, a free man and talented violin player living in New York with his family, who was drugged, abducted and sold in slavery. He remained a slave in Louisiana for 12 years before finally regaining his freedom in 1853.

Dancing on the Edge’s Chitwetel Ejiofor plays Northup while Michael Fassbender plays Edwin Epps, a cruel plantation owner, and Brad Pitt stars as a Canadian carpenter. Fan favourite Benedict Cumberbatch plays William Ford, a Baptist preacher and slave owner.

The film also stars Oscar nominee Quvenzhane Wallis as Northups’ daughter.

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12 Years a Slave hits UK cinemas 24 January 2014.