Slave-trade drama wins distribution deal

Amazing Grace, the drama about British parliamentarian William Wilberforce and his campaign to abolish the slave trade, has scored a distribution deal on the eve of its world premiere.

Samuel Goldwyn Films and Roadside Attractions plan to release the film in the U.S. in late February 2007, according to movie trade paper Hollywood Reporter. The release date is approximately the 200th anniversary of the British Parliament’s vote to abolish the slave trade.

The film, which is set to make its world premiere on the closing night of the upcoming Toronto International Film Festival, stars Ioan Gruffudd as Wilberforce.

The Welsh actor’s credits include films such as Fantastic Four, King Arthur and Black Hawk Down, as well as TV’s Horatio Hornblower.

Directed by British filmmaker Michael Apted, the film also features Albert Finney, Michael Gambon, Rufus Sewell and world music legend Youssou N’Dour in his feature film debut.

The movie follows Wilberforce during his rise as a young politician and throughout the late 18th and early 19th century as he forms a coalition of allies — including abolitionists and a former slave trader — in his more than 20-year campaign to end the British Empire’s slave trade.

The two independent distributors aim to target several audience groups, including art house crowds, human rights groups and religious viewers.

“Wilberforce is a hero to many Christians because he combined political actions and his belief in God,” Howard Cohen, Roadside’s co-president, told Hollywood Reporter.


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