Free State of Jones
Based on Oscar®-nominated writer/director Gary Ross’ original screenplay, the epic actiondrama Free State of Jones tells the extraordinary story of a little known episode in American history during which Newt Knight, a fearless Mississippi farmer, led an unlikely band of poor white farmers and runaway slaves in an historic armed rebellion against the Confederacy during the height of the Civil War. Juxtaposing and complementing the narrative in intermittent flash-forwards is the 1948 trial of The State of Mississippi versus Davis Knight, the key defendant in a ground breaking miscegenation trial, and the great-grandson of Newt Knight and his common law wife and former slave, Rachel. Standing side by side in opposition to a ‘rich man’s war, and poor man’s fight,’ Knight’s brave followers took up arms against the Confederacy and established an indomitable rebel regiment deep in rural Mississippi’s impenetrable swamps, giving them a tactical advantage despite being vastly outgunned and outnumbered. A visionary leader, Knight’s passionate opposition to exploitation and prejudice and his establishment of the region’s first mixed-race community, ultimately distinguished him as a celebrated and alternately vilified presence long after the war. Oscar-winning actor Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyer’s Club, The Lincoln Lawyer) stars as Newton “Newt” Knight, a larger-than-life figure from the remote Piney Woods area of Mississippi, whose dedication to justice and equality inspired his popular rebellion against all odds and obstacles. Starring with McConaughey are Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Concussion, Beyond the Lights) as Newt’s confidant and eventual common-law wife, Rachel; Mahershala Ali (The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1) as Moses Washington, a runaway slave and a guiding force in the rebellion; and Keri Russell (Waitress, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) as his first wife, Serena Knight. 3 Free State of Jones is written and directed by four-time Oscar® nominee Gary Ross (The Hunger Games, Seabiscuit, Pleasantville)—based on his decadelong independent research—from a story by Ross and Leonard Hartman, and produced by Ross through his Larger Than Life Productions shingle, along with Scott Stuber (Ted, Safe House) and Jon Kilik (Foxcatcher, The Hunger Games). Diana Alvarez (The Hunger Games) is co- producer.