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Polaris Project Congratulates 12 Years a Slave on Oscar Wins

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Polaris Project, a leading organization in the global fight against human trafficking and modern slavery, congratulated the cast, crew, and filmmakers of 12 Years a Slave on receiving three Oscars tonight at the 86thAcademy Awards tonight, including Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Adapted Screenplay. Polaris Project named Steve McQueen, Director of 12 Years a Slave, as an ambassador for the non-profit in February to raise awareness that slavery still exists today. The film received nine nominations.

“We are thrilled 12 Years of Slave received the recognition it deserves at the Oscars and congratulate the cast, crew, filmmakers, and Polaris Project’s Ambassador Steve McQueen. Decades from now, we will still be talking about Steve McQueen’s work with 12 Years a Slave. The film amplifies our understanding of historical slavery and is driving a conversation that these forms of control and exploitation still happen today in the U.S. and around the world.  12 Years a Slave is an indispensable tool to make the connection that slavery still exists, and we thank everyone involved for bringing greater attention to slavery in its past and present forms,” said Bradley Myles, CEO of Polaris Project.

On Wednesday, February 26, the United Nations held a special screening of 12 Years a Slave at UN Headquarters in New York City with Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Both McQueen and Myles spoke about modern slavery at the event, which can be viewed here.

Since the release of 12 Years a Slave last fall, Polaris Project has worked with Fox Searchlight Pictures, Plan B Entertainment, and McQueen to raise awareness about human trafficking by highlighting the striking parallels between Solomon Northup’s story and the experiences of sex and labor trafficking victims today. Polaris Project is named after the North Star “Polaris” that guided people escaping slavery along the Underground Railroad.

Polaris Project hosted special screenings of the film in Washington, D.C. in October 2013 and in San Francisco in February 2014. McQueen and Myles also participated on a panel together, moderated by Rabbi David Wolpe of the Sinai Temple, following a screening at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles in November. Myles published an article about the film for CNN Opinion, which can be viewedhere. The National School Boards Association announced on February 21st that it is partnering with 12 Years a Slave filmmakers to distribute copies of the film, book, and a study guide to high schools across the United States. 

Human trafficking is a thriving criminal industry, with traffickers making billions in profits by using force, fraud, or coercion to rob victims of their freedom. The International Labor Organization estimates that there are 20.9 million victims of human trafficking worldwide. The National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline, operated by Polaris Project, received reports of 5,214 cases of human trafficking in 2013 (read more 2013 statistics here). The hotline is a lifeline for victims of modern slavery and a resource for community members to provide tips and request information.

People can receive help, report a tip, or request information or training by calling the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-888-373-7888 or by sending a text to BeFree (233733).

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