Whether they center on a major historical figure or celebrity or simply capitalize on the built-in dramatic appeal of the ubiquitous “based on a true story” tagline, films with some basis in reality – like the upcoming Race – are known to be natural draws for mainstream audiences. Moreover, they are known — notoriously so, in some circles — to be designed to draw the attention of awards ceremonies like the Academy Awards.

Still, even with so many films looking to history for inspiration, some stories have yet to be told in modern times. Such is the case with the tale of African-American Olympic gold medalist Jesse Owens, a figure who is only now finally getting a big-screen biopic of his own.

Courtesy of Yahoo! Movies, the first trailer for Race has arrived online. In the film, Stephan James (Selma, When the Game Stands Tall) plays Owens, a track-and-field star who won four gold medals during the Nazi-run 1936 Berlin Summer Olympics. Stephen Hopkins (The Reaping, The Life and Death of Peter Sellers) directs the film based on a screenplay by writing team Joe Shrapnel and Anna Waterhouse (Frankie & Alice). Jason Sudeikis, William Hurt, Jeremy Irons and Carice van Houten are among the supporting cast.

race movie stephan james jesse owens Race Trailer: Jesse Owens Goes For the Gold

While there’s little doubt that Owens’ story of overcoming tremendous adversity (to emerge one of the all-time greatest athletes) has the potential to make for great cinematic storytelling, it’s particularly encouraging to see the project coming to life with up-and-comer James at its center. The actor has yet to land that big breakout role, and Race could be the film that takes his career to the next level.

After all, 42 — which tackled similar thematic ground in telling the story of Jackie Robinson — was the film that provided leading man Chadwick Boseman with his breakthrough role. Now the actor is set to headline Marvel’s much-anticipated Black Panther film. There’s little reason to think that, if Hopkins and his team have created a worthy retelling of Owens’ tale, Race won’t provide James with the venue to not only tell an important story – but also to boost his own profile at the same time. Only time will tell.

Will you be checking out Race when the film hits theaters early next year? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

Race hits U.S. theaters on February 19th, 2016.

Source: Yahoo! Movies

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