Will Smith Proudly Presents Emancipation, His First Movie Since Oscars Slap

The Antoine Fuqua-directed thriller, which was shelved in the wake of Smith’s Oscars slap, is screened for the first time at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s 51st annual Legislative Conference in DC.

AceShowbizWill Smith is set to make his big-screen return in the wake of his controversial behavior at this year’s Academy Awards. The Oscar winner’s movie “Emancipation” is back on track for a possible 2023 release after previously being hit with multiple delays.

Directed by “The Equalizer” helmer Antoine Fuqua, “Emancipation” was screened for the first time on Saturday, October 1 at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s 51st annual Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C. The event was hosted by Apple, which won the rights to the film in 2020, and NAACP.

The screening was followed by a conversation about the film with Fuqua, Smith and Mary Elliot, curator of American Slavery at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.

“Throughout my career, I’ve turned down many films that were set in slavery,” Smith said, as quoted by The Hollywood Reporter. “I never wanted to show us like that. And then this picture came along.” He added, “And this is not a film about slavery. This is a film about freedom. This is a film about resilience. This is a film about faith.”

“This is a film about the heart of a man-what could be called the first viral image,” Smith continued sharing. “Cameras had just been created, and the image of whipped Peter went around the world. It was a rallying cry against slavery, and this 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.”

Following the screening, NAACP president Derrick Johnson tweeted, “I had the pleasure of watching the film #Emancipation and can’t begin to tell how powerful this is for OUR community and OUR history. It’s a story of adversity, of resilience, of love, and of triumph. Thank you Antoine Fuqua and Will Smith for sharing your gifts!”

“Oscars So White” creator April Reign chimed in as she shared her experience watching the movie, “At a special screening of the film #Emancipation, with director @AntoineFuqua and producer and star Will Smith. This is the first time Will has seen the film with an audience.”

Others also sang praise for the movie, with one already touting it as an awards contender, “Please let this be a 2023 awards contender. Highly anticipated.” Someone else reacted to the film, “#Emancipation coming soon. Powerful picture highlighting how Black ppl fought for the freedom.”

Based on a true story, “Emancipation” follows Peter (Smith), who runs away from his plantation in search of his family, outwitting cold-blooded hunters and surviving the Louisiana swamps along the way. His photo, taken when he joined the Union Army and showed his bare back, which was heavily scourged from an overseer’s whippings, was published in 1863, giving the abolitionist movement proof of the cruelty of American slavery.

“Emancipation” was previously reported to be shelved until sometime in 2023 after Smith slapped Chris Rock at the Academy Awards, which led to actor’s 10-year ban from the Academy.

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