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American Crime creator John Ridley to write, direct movie on 1992 LA riots

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Alberto E. Rodriguez/BAFTA LA/Getty Images

Academy Award-winning filmmaker John Ridley (12 Years A Slave, American Crime) is no stranger to projects that tackle controversial race-based subjects, and his latest will focus on the incendiary riots that occurred in Los Angeles in April 1992.

Broad Green Pictures and Imagine Entertainment announced a partnership Monday for which Ridley will write and direct the as-of-yet-untitled-film that will focus on some of the central characters involved in the uprising and the events that led to it.

“This is a seminal event in our country’s history, the reverberations of which are still far too relevant today,” said Broad Green Pictures founders CEO Gabriel Hammond and Chief Creative Officer Daniel Hammond in a joint statement. “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.”

Coming off an Oscar win for best-adapted screenplay for 12 Years a Slave, Ridley dove into television with race drama American Crime. The acclaimed ABC series has been a critic’s favorite, earning actress Regina King her first Emmy award for her role as a devout Muslim. Though the limited drama series has been renewed for a second season, Ridley has shown no signs of slowing down with a number of projects in the works, including a big-screen revamp of the 1959 classic Ben-Hur and a mysterious new Marvel series.

With the recent success of films that offer commentary about race relations like the box office hit Straight Outta Compton, audiences seem ready for a film based on the L.A. riots, which were sparked when four white police officers were tried in connection with the beating of black motorist Rodney King.

“You want to build the space that people recognize it’s not purely empty entertainment,” Ridley told reporters at the Television Critics Association’s winter TV previews of his commitment to meaningful storytelling. “Sometimes it is just a shot, it’s just an image, it’s something that resonates, whether it is the ‘Hands up, don’t shoot,’ [or] whether it’s being very tight on the eyes of a police officer who realizes that the situation is about to get out of control.