The film is based on the autobiography of Solomon Northrup, who was kidnapped in Washington DC and wrongfully enslaved after being born a free man. The film follows him as he works on a Louisiana cotton plantation until his rescue 12 years later.
Chiwetel Ejiofor is playing the kidnapped slave with Paul Dano playing the slave owner.
Steve McQueen co-wrote the film with Red Tails' John Ridley.
The actor is best known for his role on the hit BBC series Sherlock and is making an appearance in the upcoming Star Trek sequel.