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Will Smith’s latest film premieres

by Stewart Cole

Apple held its first screening Antoine Fuquahis movie Emancipation. The movie starring Will Smith as Peter, a slave in search of freedom, is already making waves on social media for being a “powerful” film and is being tipped for awards season. According to a report from Deadlinethe historical thriller Emancipation had its first private screening on Saturday, just in time for awards season. Apple Original Films, which won the rights to the film in a record-breaking auction, and the NAACP hosted a screening of the film at the Congressional Black Foundation’s 51st annual Legislative Conference in DC.


In addition to Fuqua, who directed the film, and Smith, who stars in the lead role, a select group of representatives from the Black community were invited to attend the screening. Among them were members of the Congressional Black Congress, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Divine 9 (Historically Black Sororities and Sororities), National Council of Negro Women, National Coalition for Black Civic Engagement, Outgoing Power, and #WinWithBlackWomen . While Apple has yet to set a date for the film’s official release, it is expected that the film will be released in time for awards season. Before Smith’s ten-year ban from the Academy after a slap Chris Rock at the Oscars, for which he recently apologized in July, Emancipation was considered a prime candidate. It is hoped, however, that the judges will take heed of the incident and focus on the film’s substance.

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During the post-screening conference, Smith made his first public comments about the film, expressing the importance of the film. “Throughout my career, I have turned down many films that were in thrall. I never wanted to show us like that, you know, and then this picture came along and this is not a film about slavery,” Smith said, speaking candidly to the audience about why he got into the project. “This is a film about freedom. This is a film about resilience. You know, this is a movie about faith. It’s a film about a man’s heart, what could be called the first viral image.” The graphic image Smith refers to formed the basis of the film he wrote William N. Collage. The 1863 photograph shows ‘Whipped Peter’ (also known as Gordon) and his back heavily scarred as a result of whipping during his enslavement. “The cameras had just been set up and the image of Whipped Peter was going around the world and it was a rallying cry against slavery,” Smith explained, adding that the image resonated with him. “This was a story that burst and blossomed in my heart that I wanted to be able to convey to you in a way that only Antoine Fuqua could convey.”

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The film has already received support on social media for its significance to the black community. “I had the pleasure of watching the movie #Emancipation and I can’t begin to say how powerful this is for OUR community and OUR history.” Derrick Johnsonwrote the President and CEO of the NAACP in a Post on Twitter. “It is a story of adversity, resilience, love and triumph. Thanks to Antoine Fuqua and Will Smith for sharing your gifts!” His comments are echoed by many who watched the screening. Angela T. Rye He wrote, “#Emancipation is a powerful story rooted not only in our history, but also in our resilience as a people. Thank you @willsmith @AntoineFuqua @AppleTVplus for telling stories that matter!”

Emancipation tells the story of Peter’s quest for freedom. After recovering from a whipping that nearly killed him, Peter (Smith) escapes from cold-blooded slavers in the Louisiana swamps. Smith is accompanied by Mustafa Shakir (as Andre Cailloux), Ben Foster (Faschel), Stephen Ogg (Sergeant Howard), Charmaine Bingwa (Dodienne), Imani Pullam (Betsy), Gilbert Owuor (Gordon), and Aaron Clifton Moten (Knows).

Emancipation will be released in 2023. Watch our interview with Fuqua below:

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