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'12 Years' Star Skips Italy Premiere, Decision Made Weeks Ago

Whisper Campaigns 12 Years a Slave - H 2013
"12 Years a Slave"

UPDATE: Lupita Nyong'o, and the rest of the film's cast, didn't attend the Capri, Hollywood Film Festival screening following controversy over the movie's local posters, but it was not announced that she would be there.

The 18th annual Capri, Hollywood Film Festival kicked off Friday with the Italian premiere of 12 Years a Slave, without breakthrough star Lupita Nyong'o in attendance.

But despite recent controversy over local posters for the film, which highlighted its white supporting actors Brad Pitt and Michael Fassbender over black star Chiwetel Ejiofor, it was not announced that Nyong'o would be there, and her decision not to attend was made more than two weeks ago, before the poster controversy emerged.

"Due to other commitments that prevented her from going, [Nyong'o's] reps let [the Capri festival] know over two weeks ago that she could no longer go," a spokeswoman for Lionsgate, whose subsidiary Summit is the film's sales agent, told The Hollywood Reporter. (Fox Searchlight distributed the title in the U.S.)

Similarly, Lionsgate previously told the festival that none of the cast members were available to attend.

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Posters for the film, featuring large portraits of Pitt and Fassbender, recently emerged in Italy, inciting a backlash and charges of racism. But Summit swiftly agreed to recall them, with Italian distributor BIM Distribuzione later apologizing for the "inappropriate materials."

The Capri festival runs from Dec. 27 to Jan. 2 and will also feature screenings of Lee Daniels' The Butler; Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom; Fruitvale Station; August: Osage County; and American Hustle. Mandela stars Idris Elba and Naomie Harris will be honored as the festival's actor and actress of the year. August's star-studded cast, including Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts, will be honored with the festival's best ensemble prize. The festival will also honor Hustle's writer-director, David O. Russell.

12 Years a Slave is slated to be released in Italy on Feb. 20.