Apple hosted the premiere screening of Will Smith and Antoine Fuqua’s next film, EmancipationSaturday in Washington DC Although the fate of the project appears to hang in the balance after Smith’s infamous Oscar slap in the face, the screening indicates that Apple plans to release it soon.
At the 2022 Oscars, Smith took the stage during the ceremony and surprised the world by slapping host Chris Rock, who had made a joke about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. Since then, Smith has resigned from the Academy, some of his projects have been put on hold, and he’s apologized to Rock, Rock’s family, fellow Oscar winners and more.
Apple and the NAACP hosted the Emancipation screening at the 51st Annual Legislative Conference of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation for representatives of the Congressional Black Caucus, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Divine 9 (Historically Black Fraternities and Sororities), National Council of Black Women, Coalition campaign on black civic participation, Rising Power and #WinWithBlackWomen, among other social impact leaders.
It was followed by a conversation about the film with Fuqua, Will Smith and Mary Elliott, curator of American slavery at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, moderated by political and cultural commentator Angela Rye.
“Throughout my career, I’ve turned down a lot of movies that were set in slavery,” Smith said during the screening. “I never wanted to show us like that. And then this image came along. And it’s not a movie about slavery. It’s a movie about freedom. It’s a movie about resilience. It’s a film about faith.
He continued: “It’s a film about the heart of a man – what you might call the first viral image. Cameras had just been created, and the image of Peter whipped around the world. It was a rallying cry against slavery, and it was a story that exploded and blossomed in my heart that I wanted to be able to deliver to you in a way that only Antoine Fuqua could deliver.
Based on a true story, Emancipation follows Peter (Smith), who flees his plantation in search of his family, outmaneuvering cold-blooded hunters and surviving the Louisiana swamps along the way. Peter eventually joins the Union Army. During a medical examination, her bare back, which had scars from a near fatal whiplash at the hands of the overseer of her former plantation, was photographed. The Independent posted the photo, undoubtedly proving the cruelty and barbarity of slavery in America.
Fuqua directed and produced by management Emancipation from a screenplay by William N. Collage. The film is produced by Smith and Jon Mone through Westbrook Studios, Joey McFarland through McFarland Entertainment, and Todd Black through Escape Artists. Chris Brigham, James Lassiter, Heather Washington, Cliff Roberts, Glen Basner and Scott Greenberg serve as executive producers.