After nearly two years touring the festival circuit, the independent slavery drama film “The North Star” is finally getting a major distribution deal with RLJ Entertainment.

The film, which is the writer/producer/directorial debut for Philadelphia-area native Thomas K. Phillips, was shot on location in Pennsylvania’s Bucks County. Starring Jeremiah Trotter (veteran NFL linebacker) and Thomas C. Bartley, Jr. as two slaves who run away from a Virginia plantation to Buckingham, Pennsylvania, in 1849, “The North Star” also features long-time Hollywood character actors Keith David (“Platoon,” “Community”) and John Deihl (“Escape from New York,” “The Shield”) alongside newcomers like Trotter and Bartley. The film’s website says the plot is based on a real account that played out in Bucks County.

Phillips’s statement on the film unearths much of the creative and emotional inspiration for the film: 

My wish is that “The North Star” will resonate positively with its audience and show the good of humanity at such a dark time in American history. Another one of my goals is to shed light on the thousands of courageous individuals that took the perilous journey to freedom, leaving the only life known to them; a life of forced servitude and inhumane treatment, for a better life for themselves and future generations. In addition and most important to me, I hope that “The North Star” will create a dialog with its audience about how people came together for the cause of abolishing slavery; people of different ethnic and religious backgrounds who heard the word of God in their hearts and risked a great deal by their actions. I believe it is still relevant in solving some of today’s issues.

The film, which was screened as an official selection at the DC Black Theater Film Festival (2013) and Pan African Film Festival (2014) gets a red carpet premiere in Philadelphia on September 17, 2015, before opening in theaters across the country. RLJ Entertainment will also be screening the film on its proprietary digital channel, the “Urban Movie Channel,” in tandem with a 2016 DVD and Digital HD release. 

Check out the trailer above.

(H/t Indiewire