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“12 Years A Slave” director Steve McQueen has decided on the subject of his fourth feature, and his choice is sure to be just as controversial as his Academy Award winning film.


At the Hidden Heroes Awards in NYC, McQueen revealed that his next film will chronicle the life of athlete, singer and political activist Paul Robeson. Famous for his timeless song, “Ol’ Man River,” Robeson was also a strong-willed voice in the Civil Rights movement, even after being blacklisted for being a “communist” during the McCarthy era. McQueen, a British director of Grenadian descent, was turned onto Robeson’s story by a neighbor when he was 14, according to The Guardian:

It was about this black guy who was in Wales and was singing with these miners. I was about 14 years old, and not knowing who Paul Robeson was, this black American in Wales, it seemed strange. So then, of course, I just found out that this man was an incredible human being.

McQueen won’t be telling this story alone. He also revealed that Harry Belafonte, actor and friend of Robeson, will be involved with the film, though it’s unclear in what capacity. Regardless, McQueen was quick to express the joy in his newfound friendship:

We get on like a house on fire. I never thought I’d make a new friend, and a man who is 87 years old, but I’m very happy, he’s a beautiful man…Miracles do happen. With Paul Robeson and Harry Belafonte, things have come full circle.

Dylan “CineMasai” Green is a movie geek, hip-hop aficionado, and pita chip enthusiast. Find him on Twitter.

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