Oscar-winner Matthew McConaughey will star for Gary Ross in the $65m Civil War drama The Free State Of Jones that has got tongues wagging at AFM.

IM Global is co-financing the project with STX Entertainment, the nascent studio from former Adam Sandler producer Robert Simonds backed by TPG and Shanghai-based Hony Capital.

STX will distribute The Free State Of Jones in the US. CAA brokered the deal.

Production is set to begin in the first quarter of 2015 with Scott Stuber on board to produce the true story of Newton Knight, a Southern unionist who fled the battlefield and rallied Confederate Army deserters to his so-called Knight Company against the Confederacy.

Knight, who went on to marry the former slave of his grandfather, has been a divisive historical figure.

Some regard him as a principled man who took a stand against a war he did not believe in while in the eyes of others he was an outlaw. Ross wrote the screenplay.