First Look at Matthew McConaughey in The Free State of Jones

Posted in Articles, Arts, History, Media Archive, Mississippi, United States on 2015-03-10 01:39Z by Steven

First Look at Matthew McConaughey in The Free State of Jones

Max Evry

Motion picture and television studio STX Entertainment has begun principal photography on the theatrical feature The Free State of Jones in and around New Orleans, Louisiana, it was announced by Adam Fogelson, Chairman of STX Entertainment’s Motion Picture Group.

The epic action-drama is written and directed by four-time Oscar nominee Gary Ross (The Hunger Games, Seabiscuit, Pleasantville), and stars Oscar-winner Matthew McConaughey (Interstellar, Dallas Buyers Club), Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Beyond the Lights), Keri Russell (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) and Mahershala Ali (The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, “House of Cards”)…

…Set during the Civil War, The Free State of Jones tells the story of defiant Southern farmer Newt Knight, and his extraordinary armed rebellion against the Confederacy. Banding together with other small farmers, and with the assistance of local slaves, Knight launched an uprising that led Jones County, Mississippi to secede from the Confederacy, creating a Free State of Jones.

His marriage to a former slave, Rachel, and his subsequent establishment of a mixed race community was unique in the post-war South. Knight continued his struggle into Reconstruction, which distinguished him as a compelling, if controversial, figure of defiance long beyond the War.

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Matthew McConaughey & Gary Ross Mount Civil War Saga; Bob Simonds’ STX In Talks To Finance

Posted in Articles, Arts, Biography, History, Media Archive, Mississippi, Slavery, United States on 2014-11-07 03:00Z by Steven

Matthew McConaughey & Gary Ross Mount Civil War Saga; Bob Simonds’ STX In Talks To Finance

Deadline Hollywood

Mike Fleming Jr., Film Editor

Anita Busch, Film Editor

EXCLUSIVE: Matthew McConaughey and writer-director Gary Ross are the catalysts for a project called Free State Of Jones, which is getting some serious attention from STX Entertainment, the new mini-studio founded by investors TPG Growth, Gigi Pritzker, Hony and Robert Simonds. We hear that company reps, financial partner IM Global (who is handling foreign), and the filmmakers are heading to AFM this afternoon to discuss pre-sales. This is one of many projects STX is considering pushing through as part of its first slate. They are looking to go before the cameras in the first quarter of 2015.

Free State Of Jones is based on the untold and extraordinary story of Newton Knight, the leader of one of the greatest rebellions in Civil War history, and we hear that STX may finance (up to $20M) for the $65M-budgeted story of one of the most controversial men from the that era. McConaughey is in talks to play the Mississippian, who defected from the Confederate Army, banded together with a group of like-minded soldiers, and set out to form their own State known as the Free State Of Jones.

Knight would later have a common-law marriage to a former slave, one of the first outwardly mixed racial unions in the South — unheard of at the time. The rebellious Knight actually fought against the Confederates from within the state and after the war freed children still enslaved after a daring raid…

Note from Steven F. Riley: For more about the Knight family, please read Victoria E. Bynum’s superb monograph, The Free State of Jones: Mississippi’s Longest Civil War.

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The Free State of Jones: Mississippi’s Longest Civil War

Posted in Books, History, Media Archive, Mississippi, Monographs, Slavery, United States on 2013-02-13 15:13Z by Steven

The Free State of Jones: Mississippi’s Longest Civil War

University of North Carolina Press
336 pages
6.125 x 9.25
32 illus., 9 genealogical charts, 10 maps, appends., notes, bibl., index
Paper ISBN:  978-0-8078-5467-9

Victoria E. Bynum, Emeritus Professor of History
Texas State University, San Marcos

Between late 1863 and mid-1864, an armed band of Confederate deserters battled Confederate cavalry in the Piney Woods region of Jones County, Mississippi. Calling themselves the Knight Company after their captain, Newton Knight, they set up headquarters in the swamps of the Leaf River, where, legend has it, they declared the Free State of Jones.

The story of the Jones County rebellion is well known among Mississippians, and debate over whether the county actually seceded from the state during the war has smoldered for more than a century. Adding further controversy to the legend is the story of Newt Knight’s interracial romance with his wartime accomplice, Rachel, a slave. From their relationship there developed a mixed-race community that endured long after the Civil War had ended, and the ambiguous racial identity of their descendants confounded the rules of segregated Mississippi well into the twentieth century.

Victoria Bynum traces the origins and legacy of the Jones County uprising from the American Revolution to the modern civil rights movement. In bridging the gap between the legendary and the real Free State of Jones, she shows how the legend–what was told, what was embellished, and what was left out–reveals a great deal about the South’s transition from slavery to segregation; the racial, gender, and class politics of the period; and the contingent nature of history and memory.

Table of Contents

  • Preface
  • Introduction
  • Sacred Wars: Race and the Ongoing Battle over the Free State of Jones
  • Part One: The Origins of Mississippi’s Piney Woods People
    • 1. Jones County’s Carolina Connection: Class and Race in Revolutionary America
    • 2. The Quest of Land: Yeoman Republicans on the Southwestern Frontier
    • 3. Piney Woods Patriarchs: Class Relations and the Growth of Slavery
    • 4. Antebellum Life on the Leaf River: Gender, Violence, and Religious Strife
    • 5. Piney Woods Patriarchs: Class Relations and the Growth of Slavery
  • Part Two: Civil War, Reconstruction and the Struggle for Power
    • 6. The Inner Civil War: Birth of the Free State of Jones
    • 7. The Free State Turned Upside Down: Colonel Lowry’s Confederate Raid on Jones County
    • 8. Reconstruction and Redemption: The Politics of Race, Class and Manhood in Jones County
    • 9. Defiance and Domination “White Negroes” in the Piney Woods New South
  • Epilogue. The Free State of Jones Revisited: Davis Knight’s Miscegenation Trial
  • Appendixes with (Selected Descendants of the Knight, Coleman, Welborn, Bynum, Collings, Sumrall, Welch, Valentine families, and The “White Negro” Community, 1880-1920.
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index

Visit Victoria Bynum’s interactive site for the book here.

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