Descendants of the man whose story inspired 12 Years A Slave have thanked British director Steve McQueen for bringing his tragic tale to the big screen.

The Oscar-nominated film stars Chiwetel Ejiofor as Solomon Northup, a free man who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in 1841, and is based on his 1853 memoir of the same name.

Four generations of Northup's family have been brought together for a series of photoshoots with The Hollywood Reporter, and they were pictured posing with MCQueen.

Evelyn Jackson, 64, Northup's great-great-great granddaughter, praised the director for bringing her relative's story to new audiences, saying, "The movie brought out more love than hatred. Even though it's a hard movie to watch and to see, the loving family he had at the end of it all is just heartfelt."

Michelle Linzy, also a great-great-great granddaughter, adds, "The movie brings the book to life, so that you can actually experience what he had to go through. It allows you to feel, see and hear those things that you can't really see, feel and hear in a book."

Lynette Perez, a fourth great-granddaughter, adds, "He's a part of history now. Before it was just a book, and now it's this movie directed by Steve MCQueen."

The film will compete for a Best Picture Oscar at the Academy Awards on Sunday (02Mar14).