Charles Burnett, director of acclaimed films Killer of Sheep and To Sleep with Anger, will work with Amazon Studios to direct the slave drama, Steal Away. The upcoming film will focus on Robert Smalls’ legendary naval escape from Confederate Charleston, SC in 1866. This news was first reported by Deadline.
The film will follow Smalls’ heroic journey from Southern chains to Northern freedom. In the face of extreme danger, Smalls hijacked the CSS Planter and captained his family and fellow slaves through Confederate territories to freedom. Smalls served the rest of the war speaking and fighting on behalf of the Union.
After the end of the Civil War, Smalls would further cement his already extraordinary legacy. The former slave returned to South Carolina and served five terms as a state representative. Smalls would go on to draft legislation that would eventually become the first free and compulsory public school in the United States.
Steal Away will be Burnett’s first film since receiving the Governor’s Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences for his outstanding contribution to American cinema. Burnett’s films To Sleep with Anger and Killer of Sheep are selections in the Library of Congress National Film Registry – affirming both films are an invaluable part of contemporary American culture.
Burnett and Amazon Studios have yet to make any official announcements indicating when Steal Away might be set to begin production.