The searing slavery drama 12 Years a Slave has won the Academy Award for best picture.

Directed by British director Steve McQueen, the film is based on a true story and stars Chiwetel Ejiofor as Solomon Northup, a free man who was kidnapped into slavery in the South. It is the first film directed by a black filmmaker to win the best picture Oscar.

Other nominees Sunday were: American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity, Her, NebraskaPhilomena, and The Wolf of Wall Street.

Meanwhile Mexican Alfonso Cuaron won best director for space thriller Gravity and took five other awards for technical achievements like visual effects and cinematography.

Matthew McConaughey was named best actor for Dallas Buyers Club; Cate Blanchett, best actress for Blue Jasmine; Jared Leto, best supporting actor for Dallas Buyers Club; and Lupita Nyong’o, best supporting actress for 12 Years a Slave.

Click here for a full list of the winners.

The 86th Academy Awards are airing live on ABC from the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, with Ellen DeGeneres as host.

With files from Toronto Staff