EXCLUSIVE: Good Fear Film’s Chris Bender and Jake Weiner have acquired life rights to Elizabeth Fink and Frank “Big Black” Smith to tell the story of the infamous 1971 Attica prison riots and its aftermath. Kristen Buckley (How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days) is set to adapt. The movie will follow the life of the 29-year-old radical lawyer, Fink, as she works with ex-con Smith to uncover the massive state cover-up following the riots.

Smith, who died in 2004, was the coach of the prison football team and because of that was designated to be chief of security during the uprising, to protect outsiders like hostage negotiators. After U.S. troopers stormed the prison with a hail of bullets, 39 were dead, 10 of them prison guards. Because of the role he played in safeguarding negotiators, Smith was targeted as one of the leaders. Fueled by false rumors he had castrated a guard, Smith was tortured in the aftermath of the siege. Fink waged a 26-year court case on behalf of Smith and other injured prisoners, which finally resulted in a $12 million legal settlement.

Attica Big Black Leads Rally 1975
Associated Press

Smith later became a counselor and advocate for the disadvantaged and when he died, he was working to get compensation for families of injured Attica guards after they accepted state compensation that prevented them from suing and getting more for their injuries. The film will have the cooperation of the estates of Fink and Smith and access to key players and documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.

“This underdog story of unlikely partners teaming up to fight the system really resonated with us, and remains relevant to today’s society and politics. We are grateful that both estates have entrusted us to tell this story and are excited to work with Kristen,” said Bender and Weiner.

Laura Stevens represents the estates of Fink and Smith and attorney Allison Binder of Stone, Genow repped Good Fear in the deal.

The production company is prepping the David Robert Mitchell-directed Under The Silver Lake, with  Andrew Garfield and Dakota Johnson starring.