Yahoo! News, December 24, 2013
The US studio behind Golden Globe-nominated historical movie “12 Years a Slave,” has asked the film’s Italian distributors to withdraw posters which triggered an online storm over alleged racism.
Lionsgate did not specify why it was asking for the publicity material to be pulled, but a source linked to the Italian distributors said they were in the process of removing “unauthorised” posters of the movie, tipped for glory in Hollywood’s annual awards season.
The Italian posters feature large pictures of Hollywood A-lister Brad Pitt and Michael Fassbender, who have relatively small parts in the movie, but barely show black actor Chiwetel Ejifor, who plays the main role.
“The ‘12 Years A Slave’ theatrical posters featuring Brad Pitt and Michael Fassbender that were recently released in Italy were unauthorised and were not approved by any of the producers or licensors of the film,” said Summit Entertainment, a Lionsgate subsidiary.
The posters commissioned by Italian distributor BIM triggered a storm online, with some arguing they are racist in using photos of white stars to advertise a movie about a black character.
“REALLY? I don’t remember Brad Pitt being the protagonist of the film or having such a pivotal role in the story to stay in the middle of the poster,” said an Italy-based blogger on Tumblr called Carefree Black Girl.
Commenting on a Washington Post blog, Bfeely600 wrote: “I get that Brad Pitt is a recognisable star, yet I can’t help but think once again that race plays a part.”
On Twitter, actor-director David Eng wrote: “The folks who made the Italian 12 YEARS A SLAVE posters may not actually be racist.
“They just think all Italians are.”