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Russell Crowe To Star In Sand & Blood

Ronan Bennett wrote the script, which tackles white slavery.

Oscar winner Russell Crowe is set to star in “In Sand and Blood” for IM Global, TheWrap has learned. It is unclear whether Crowe will direct the epic drama after recently making his directorial debut with “The Water Diviner.

Ronan Bennett wrote the script, which may be based on Dean King’s nonfiction book “Skeletons on the Zahara: A True Story of Survival.” Luc Roeg will produce, while IM Global’s Stuart Ford will executive produce.

In 1815, an American brig, the Commerce, was wrecked on the desolate coast fringing the Western Sahara. Starving and dying of thirst, its 12 man crew were captured, stripped, beaten and enslaved, kept barely alive on camel blood and urine. Five were never to be seen again, the others sold to a succession of tribesmen who bought and bartered each man for as little as a tattered blanket.

An Arab trader, Sidi Hamet, then bought Captain James Riley (Crowe) and some of his men, aiming only to sell them on at a profit. By impassioned advocacy and sheer bluff, Riley convinced Hamet that he would receive a far greater ransom from a European consul — that in truth existed only in Riley’s imagination — who was supposedly based in a Moroccan port a thousand miles to the north. What followed was an epic, terrifying and, for some, ultimately fateful trek across one of the most extreme environments on earth.

Crowe teased his involvement in the project last week in a cryptic tweet that suggested he had already begun researching his role.

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