12 Years a Slave featuring Benedict Cumberbatch takes top prize at Toronto Film Festival

The Oscar contender directed by Steve McQuuen and also starring Chiwetel Ejiofor and Michael Fassbender has won the People's Choice award at the prestigious festival

12 Years a Slave has won the top prize at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival.


The Steve McQueen-directed drama, which stars Chitwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender and Sherlock’s Benedict Cumberbatch, has won the People’s Choice award at the prestigious film festival – an award which is voted for by the festival-going public. 

12 Years a Slave 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.

12 Years a Slave, which received rave reviews from critics following its premiere at the Venice Film Festival, now looks even more likely to achieve success at next year’s Oscars ceremony. In 2012, David O Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook won the Tiff People’s Choice Award before bagging eight nominations at the Academy Awards and winning one for Best Actress. Other past winners include Oscar success stories The King’s Speech and Slumdog Millionaire. 

12 Years a Slave is out in UK cinemas on 24 January.