’12 Years a Slave’ Screenwriter to Direct Film About L.A. Riots

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Los Angeles, CA

A film about the controversial arrest of Rodney King, whose arresting officers were acquitted in 1992 of assault, leading to widespread rioting across Los Angeles, will be directed by 12 Years a Slave screenwriter John Ridley.

Ridley won an Oscar in 2014 for his 12 Years a Slave script, however the writer has little experience in directing. Aside from helming a number of TV episodes, Ridley has only directed two minor films; 1997’s Cold Around the Heart and 2013’s Jimi: All Is by My Side.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the untitled film will cover the events of the April 1992 L.A. Riots, which sparked amid racial tension after four L.A.P.D. police officers were acquitted for beating King, a cab driver with an extensive criminal record, nearly to death.

In March 1991, King was caught by police driving 115 mph in a residential zone, and attempted to evade police, as he was on parole at the time. King was hit by police with a defective taser, a fact unknown to the officers at the time, and continued to resist arrest, leading them to believe he was on PCP.

King was continually beaten by the officers, and footage of the incident was seen worldwide.

After King’s arresting officers were found not guilty of police brutality a year later, riots broke out in and around South Central Los Angeles over a six-day period, and left more than 50 people dead and another 2,300 injured.

Rodney King was found dead fully nude at the bottom of his swimming pool in June 2012 at the age of 47. His fiancee reported that he had been drinking heavily and smoking pot prior to his death.

The John Ridley L.A. Riots film will be distributed by Broad Green Pictures in collaboration with Imagine Entertainment.

Broad Green founders Gabriel and Daniel Hammond praised John Ridley and expressed excitement over the project in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter:

“This is a seminal event in our country’s history, the reverberations of which are still far too relevant today. We were blown away by John’s amazing screenplay and we know that under his direction and the aegis of Imagine the film will be truly incredible. This is why we started this company. To make movies like this.”

Brian Grazer, of Imagine, told the site: “We have barely seen the tip of the iceberg in terms of John Ridley’s talent. I am confident that he will capture the magnitude of the events that unfolded and the issues that led up to them. He will show the world why the riots cannot and should not be forgotten.”

The upcoming film will begin principal photography in spring 2016.