RLJ Entertainment will debut writer/director Thomas K. Phillips’ feature film debut “The North Star” on March 1, 2016. “The North Star” will also premiere on Urban Movie Channel (UMC) in February for Black History Month.
In the film, based on true events, former NFL linebacker Jeremiah Trotter stars as Big Ben Jones, alongside Thomas C. Bartley Jr. (who plays Moses Hopkins) as two slaves who escape from a Virginia plantation and make their way to freedom in Buckingham, Pennsylvania in 1849, where they are helped by local Quakers.
In addition to Trotter and Bartley, cast members for “The North Star” include Clifton Powell, Lynn Whitfield, John Diehl, Keith David, Christopher Mann, and April Woodall.
Official synopsis: For black slaves Big Ben (Jeremiah Trotter) and Moses (Thomas C. Bartley, Jr.), the only thing worse than the daily cruelty of life on a Virginia plantation is the fear of being hunted down and tortured as runaways. But when Ben learns he is about to be sold to a new owner, he and Moses make the desperate choice to run. Evading brutal slave hunters and with only the light of the North Star as their guide, the pair make the grueling journey across hostile land to the free state of Pennsylvania. And even when a community of kind-hearted abolitionists welcomes them, Ben and Moses realize that their perilous struggle for freedom continues. Featuring an all-star cast including Keith David, Lynn Whitfield, John Diehl and Clifton Powell.
By the way, “The North Star” was the name of an anti-slavery newspaper published by Frederick Douglass in the 1800s.
“My wish is that ‘The North Star’ will resonate positively with its audience and show the good of humanity at such a dark time in American history. One of my goals is to shed light on the thousands of courageous individuals that took the perilous journey to freedom, leaving the only life known to them; a life of forced servitude and inhumane treatment, for a better life for themselves and future generations,” said director Thomas K. Philips. “In addition and most important to me, I hope that ‘The North Star’ will create a dialogue with audiences about how people came together for the cause of abolishing slavery; people of different ethnic and religious backgrounds who heard the word of God in their hearts and risked a great deal by their actions. I believe it is still relevant in solving some of today’s issues.”
The film’s original score was composed and performed by Grammy Award winner Ramsey Lewis with his son Frayne Lewis. “American Idol” finalist Jermaine Jones is featured on two tracks.
Exclusive first look at the release trailer below: