Actress Lupita Nyong'o attends IFP's 23nd Annual Gotham Independent Film Awards at Cipriani Wall Street on December 2, 2013 in New York City

Actress Lupita Nyong’o attends IFP’s 23nd Annual Gotham Independent Film Awards at Cipriani Wall Street on December 2, 2013 in New York City

*One of the stars of the critically acclaimed “12 Years a Slave” has dropped out of a film premiere in Italy after the local distributor opted to promote the film’s white actors over its more prominently-featured black stars.

Actress Lupita Nyong’o, who was scheduled to introduce the film at the Capri Hollywood Film Festival, did not give an explanation for canceling her appearance, reports Variety.

Her decision, however, comes after the film’s Italian distributor issued an apology for the unapproved movie posters, which focused on white cast-members Michael Fassbender and Brad Pitt – while the film’s lead, Chiwetel Ejiofor, is confined to the lower right-hand corner.

Fassbender has a supporting role as a sadistic plantation owner, while Pitt is in the film for just a few minutes.


As previously reported, Italian distributor BIM Distribuzione issued an apology Thursday for white-washing its promotion of the film.

“We apologize for creating and releasing unauthorized posters for ’12 Years a Slave’ in Italy featuring Brad Pitt and Michael Fassbender in a manner inconsistent with approved advertising materials,” “All inappropriate materials have now been withdrawn. We are very proud of the film and regret any distraction this incident may have caused.”

Lupita Nyong'o and Chiwetel Ejiofor in "12 Years a Slave"

Lupita Nyong’o and Chiwetel Ejiofor in “12 Years a Slave”

“12 Years a Slave” tells the true story of Solomon Northup (Ejiofor), a free New Yorker kidnapped and sold into slavery in pre-Civil War America. Nyong’o plays Patsey, a slave whom Northrup meets after being sold to the New Orleans plantation of Edwin Epps (Fassbender).

In June, a special screening of the film was held at the 15th annual Solomon Northup Day in Saratoga Springs, NY, where more than 40 of his descendants gathered from all over the country. Saratoga Springs is where Northup, as a free man, traveled to play violin in the city’s large hotels.  He was eventually was deceived by two men who claimed to have work for the  violinist. They kidnapped Northup and sold him into slavery down South.
Nyong’o attended the gathering and screened early clips from the film that would be released months later. She spoke about the experience at a press conference in September.