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Amistad is a 1997 historical drama film directed by Steven Spielberg based on the true story of an uprising in 1839 by newly captured African slaves that took place aboard the ship La Amistad off the coast of Cuba, the subsequent voyage to the Northeastern United States, and the legal battle that followed their capture by a United States revenue cutter. It shows how, even though the case was won at the federal district court level, it was appealed by President Martin Van Buren to the Supreme Court, and how former President John Quincy Adams took part in the proceedings. The film begins in the depths of the schooner La Amistad, a slave-ship carrying captured West Africans into slavery. The film's protagonist, Sengbe Pieh (Djimon Hounsou), most known by his Mende name, "Cinqué" (meaning "fifth"), painstakingly picks a nail out of the ship's structure and uses it to pick the lock on his shackles. Freeing a number of his companions, Cinquè initiates a rebellion on board the storm-tossed vessel.