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'Moonlight' director to film slavery drama for Amazon

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New York (AFP)

Director Barry Jenkins, whose movie "Moonlight" won this year's best picture Oscar, is to write and direct a drama for Amazon based on a prize-winning novel about escaping from slavery, a statement said Monday.

The book of the same name by novelist Colson Whitehead has sold over 825,000 copies and won a National Book Award, one of America's most prestigious literary prizes.

Inspired by the historic secret network of routes that allowed slaves to reach freedom in the North in the 18th century, it tells the story of young African American Cora's escape from a Georgia plantation.

But in the book she finds not a metaphorical but an actual railroad in operation beneath Southern soil.

Jenkins, 37, said he was excited to be working with such rich literary material.

"Colson's writing has always defied convention, and The Underground Railroad is no different," the director said in a statement.

"It's a groundbreaking work that pays respect to our nation's history while using the form to explore it in a thoughtful and original way," Jenkins said, praising "the sweep and grandeur" of the novel's narrative.

Amazon, which is developing the series, has not given a release date for the drama, which is slated for production by the firms Pastel and Plan B, a company owned by Hollywood star Brad Pitt.

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