Free State of Jones is a 2016 American war film inspired by the life of Newton Knight and his armed rebellion against the Confederacy in Jones County, Mississippi, during the American Civil War. Written and directed by Gary Ross. the film stars Matthew McConaughey, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Mahershala Ali and Keri Russell. It was released in the United States by STX Entertainment on June 24, 2016, and received generally mixed reviews from critics.
After surviving the 1862 Battle of Corinth during the Civil War, Newton Knight, a poor farmer from Mississippi, leads a group of small farmers and local slaves in an armed rebellion against the Confederacy in Jones County. Knight subsequently marries a former enslaved woman, Rachel. He establishes a mixed-race community.
On November 5, 2014, an article in Deadline.com announced Matthew McConaughey would star as Newton Knight, a Civil War rebellion leader, with Gary Ross directing the film. STX Entertainment was scheduled to finance the film with up to $20 million of the $65 million budget. IM Global will co-finance it, while STX will release the film.
Jon Kilik, Scott Stuber and Ross are scheduled as the film’s producers. On January 6, 2015, Gugu Mbatha-Raw was set to play the role of Rachel, former slave and subsequently Knight’s wife. Keri Russell and Mahershala Ali joined the Civil War drama on February 12, in which Russell was set to play Knight’s wife, Serena Knight, while Ali was set to play Moses Washington, an escaped slave who joins Knight’s rebellion.