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NPR Presents: Oscar Nominee John Ridley at Studio One

by Joanna Pawlowska
Jan 16, 2014

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12yas-johnridley-michelenorris_ata-8-.jpg 12yas-johnridley-michelenorris_ata-7-.jpg 12yas-johnridley-michelenorris_ata-1-.jpg John Ridley answers a question from the audience at NPR's headquarters. Heart-wrenching scenes from the film were shown during the discussion.

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Joanna Pawlowska

Something amazing happened at Studio One last night. When asked a single question, nearly every hand in the packed house shot straight up.

"Who's seen the film, 12 Years a Slave?" NPR correspondent Michele Norris asked an enraptured crowd. She was joined on stage by John Ridley, the screenwriter nominated today for an Academy Award for his work on the highly-acclaimed film.

For the next 90 minutes, Norris led a captivating conversation, exploring with Ridley the incredible and challenging process of creating a film that deals so honestly with very heavy, historic material. They discussed writing the script, staying true to historical facts, the limitations of a film set, and dealing with the business of making a movie. Ridley was thoughtful, well-spoken and very candid.

"This isn't Black-American history, this is OUR history...and we've got a lot of catching up to do," he said, his words quieting the room.

To round up the discussion, Norris invited the audience to ask questions of their own, creating a two-way conversation with the crowd. Oscar speculations were answered today with the announcement of Ridley's nomination. It was an inspiring and thought-provoking evening for all who attended.

"It's about understanding where we are and where we've come from," said Ridley. Last night's discussion got us just a little bit closer to that place.

We invite you to experience the event with the Storify below, or connect to NPR's CodeSwitch on twitter, where NPR's Gene Demby live-tweeted the entire conversation. Search for hashtag #NPRPresents.

This event was produced by NPR Presents, NPR's multiplatform national live events initiative that furthers the mission of public radio. Events bring to the stage world-class content that is as diverse as the American land and sound-scapes, programmed for a curious, culturally-engaged and savvy global audience. NPR Presents is built on the belief in two-way conversations and intimate storytelling with our audience and in collaboration with our member station community.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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