Charless Burnett will direct Steal Away for Amazon Studios, a new film about the escape of American Robert Smalls from slavery in the 1860s.
Born in 1839 in South Carolina, Smalls was the son of a slave on the estate of Ashdale Plantation owner John McKee. In 1862, though, Smalls found his chance to escape during the Civil War and stole a steamer with a crew of fellow slaves and their families. Assigned to the Confederate vessel CSS Planter, Smalls and his crew took advantage of being left in charge of the ship while the officers slept offshore, before navigating it through Confederate lookouts without being detected and into Union territory. He went on to serve in politics for South Carolina, with both election as a Republican to the State legislature and the United States House of Representatives.
Now, his story is being turned into a film by Amazon Studios, which is developing the project with a script by Andy Froemke. To Sleep With Anger’s Charles Burnett is on board to direct, following his Governor’s Award in 2018 for his contribution to film and American culture, with both To Sleep… and Killer of Sheep included in the Library of Congress National Film Registry.
Cotty Chubb and George Plamondon are attached to the project as producers, with combined credits that include To Sleep…, Kasi Lemmons’ Eve’s Bayou, Alex Proyas’ The Crow, Oren Moverman’s The Dinner, Scrapple, Paranormal State and Truth Is Stranger Than Florida.
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