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Italy Advertises ’12 Years a Slave’ With White Actors


The movie “12 Years a Slave,” heralded as one of the best films of the years, is expected to be nominated for an Oscar for Best Picture, and leads the Golden Globe nominations with seven nods. The star of the movie is Chiwetel Ejiofor, who is winning accolades for his performance as Solomon Northup, a free black man from upstate New York who is abducted and sold into slavery. His image has appeared on the majority of movie posters promoting “12 Years A Slave” in the United States and around the world– until recently.

The movie is headed to theaters in Italy, but the promotional posters have a very different feel from what we experienced here in the states. The poster has been redesigned with Brad Pitt as the man focus of the poster. Though Pitt played a small, yet pivotal role in the film, promotional posters in Italy seem to give him top billing over the film’s lead character, Solomon Northup.

It wasn’t just Pitt’s image that was used to replace Ejiofor as the focus. Another poster used Michael Fassbender, who played a horrific slave owner.  While usually, in movie marketing, the film’s protagonist is used in most artwork, it seems the Italian marketing strategy was to do the opposite.

Pitt and Fassbender are bigger stars in Europe and in America too — but given the subject matter of the film, it’s pretty grotesque to promote the movie by downplaying the significance of its Black star.

Italy seems to have major issues with racism lately. Earlier this year the country was under fire when Italian citizens hurled bananas and smeared blood-red paint and anti-immigrant messages onto mannequins at an event where Cécile Kyenge, Italy’s first Black prime minster, was speaking.

“Immigration kills,” read signs attached to the dummies. The far-right political group Forza Nuova (“New Force”) claimed responsibility for the mannequins. The scene was also littered with fliers that said Italy’s future growth depends on “protecting the Italian identity,” according to the ANSA news agency.

What people are saying

5 thoughts on “Italy Advertises ’12 Years a Slave’ With White Actors

  1. Wow….is it that bad????

  2. Evangelist Dat says:

    Welcome to italy, I wonder why afro americans come to italy eg mary j ecc, you r not wanted in this place it's only ur money. Italy is the most racist nation on earth using religion to coverup, however afew who have travelled out especially from the south are friendly. No surprise. God bless

  3. Anonymous says:

    Yes Its that bad. I am an African American Soldier stationed in Vicenza (northern) Italy and I can attest to what Evangelist Dat is talking about. Italians treat all Africans whether legal or illegal like sub human beings. I have personally experienced how they treat black people like they don't exist. It is not until you speak and they realize you are actually Afro-American, then the treatment gets a little better only because of the money we spend in their establishments.

  4. I could care less about who they put as the lead characters. The world is even disrespecting the black actors in this film.That is the main reason I refuse to see or support these kinds of films. All they do is teach people who already have issues with us to be more hateful. I can't support something we know all too well, especially when you open up a news paper,or turn on a television set on any given day and there is a story about race, or a correspondent with conflicting views about race. The only history I need is the history of my people before the biggest holocaust in history, and it is not that Germany one. And I need to know my present and what lies ahead . I know enough about what they did to my ancestors 400 years ago, or so.

  5. What are they afraid of?Many of them have black hair and have a variation of skin tones as well.I realize somethings will change while some wouldn't.Ignorance is one of the later.

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