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The Great Debaters is a 2007 American biopic period drama film directed by and starring two-time Academy Award winner Denzel Washington and produced by Oprah Winfrey and her production company, Harpo Productions. It is based on an article written about theWiley College debate team by Tony Scherman for the 1997 Spring issue of American Legacy..
The film co-stars Forest Whitaker, Kimberly Elise, Denzel Washington, Nate Parker, Denzel Whitaker, Gina Ravera, and Jurnee Smollett. The screenplay was written by Robert Eisele. The film was released in theaters on December 25, 2007.The film was rated PG-13 for "depiction of strong thematic elements including violence and disturbing images, and for language and brief sexuality".
Based on a true story, the plot revolves around the efforts of debate coach Melvin B. Tolson (Denzel Washington) at historically black Wiley College to place his team on equal footing with whites in the American South during the 1930s, when Jim Crow laws were common and lynch mobs were a pervasive fear for blacks. In the movie, the Wiley team eventually succeeds to the point where they are able to debate Harvard University.