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Michael Apted’s slave-trade drama “Amazing Grace” has lined up a U.S. distribution deal

Independent distributors Samuel Goldwyn Films and Roadside Attractions said they would release the film on February 23, the 200th anniversary of the British parliament’s vote to abolish the slave trade.

The film, which is still being completed, stars Ioan Gruffudd as William Wilberforce, who led the British Empire to end slavery at the turn of the 19th century with the help of slave trader-turned-abolitionist Rev. John Newton (Albert Finney) and his wife (Romola Garai).

The cast also includes Rufus Sewell, Benedict Cumberbatch, Youssou N’Dour, Ciaran Hinds and Michael Gambon.

The companies are planning to target the traditional art house crowd, human rights groups and faith-based audiences.

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

The film was produced by Denver billionaire Philip Anschutz’s Bristol Bay Prods., which aims to make uplifting family-friendly fare. It scored a hit with “Ray.”

Samuel Goldwyn and Roadside have partnered on such films as the documentary “Super Size Me” and the upcoming “Lassie,” which opens September 1. The Toronto International Film Festival runs from September 7 through September 16.

Source: Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

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