Director Steve McQueen wasn't thinking about Oscars when he made the movie. He did hope that the film could help prompt some sort of a "teachable moment." And now it literally has.
The National School Boards Association has decided to add the book "12 Years a Slave" to high school curriculums in September.
"For me it was always my ambition to get this book into schools, from day one when I read the book the first time," said Steve McQueen, the film's director. "We're working with people in the U.K. and working with people in the U.S. to try and get this done, to unearth someone like Solomon Northup, to unearth an American hero."
"People are going to talk about Solomon, his story and his life for years to come and for decades to come," said John Ridley, the film's screenwriter.
Ridley has been nominated for an Oscar for adapting Northup's book into a screenplay.
"I would hope that young people see it," Ridley said. "I think clearly history is receding for all of us. But I think for a lot of young people when they are so multicultural right now, they can't understand how we reacted to other people. I would like everyone to choose to go see it, but more than anything -- I mean look, I've got two young kids -- I thought about my boys every day when I was writing. I would love them to see it, not just about race relations, but to see the measure of individuals when they find the best in themselves."
McQueen could win two Oscars on Sunday. He's nominated for directing the film, and if it wins Best Picture, he shares producing credit with, among others, Brad Pitt.