Must watch: Trailer for Steve McQueen's new film 12 Years a Slave starring Michael Fassbender, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Brad Pitt

The Shame director's new film is based on the true story of freed slave Solomon Northup

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The Independent Culture

The first trailer for Steve McQueen’s new film 12 Years a Slave has debuted online.

The pre-civil war US historical drama, starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Brad Pitt and Michael Fassbender, is due to be released in January 2014- making it a likely competitor for the awards season.

British director McQueen, whose films include Shame and Hunger, has cast Michael Fassbender- who stars in both films- as a cruel plantation owner.

The film also stars British favourite Benedict Cumberbatch as a Baptist preacher and slave owner, alongside Brad Pitt, Paul Giamatti, Paul Dano and nine-year-old Oscar nominee Quvenzhané Wallis.

12 Years a Slave, which is based on a true story, stars Chiwetel Ejiofor in the lead role as Solomon Northup, who lost his freedom in 1841 when he was abducted and sold into slavery.

Northup was transported from Washington DC to New Orleans where he was sold to a plantation owner from Louisiana. He published his memoir Twelve Years a Slave about his time in captivity after being freed in 1953.

The film is due to be released in the UK on 24 January, 2014.