Emancipation, a 2022 film starring controversial actor Will Smith, particularly notorious for the Oscar 2022 incident, is a Hollywood period drama. The film deviates from what the actor said earlier about how he “always avoided making films about slavery” since he does not want to show Black people in that light. 

The haunting images of Whipped Peter from 1893 inspired the filmmakers to tell the story of “a man who escapes from slavery, relying on his wits, unwavering faith and deep love for his family to evade cold-blooded hunters and the unforgiving swamps of Louisiana on his quest for freedom,” as the description given by Apple TV Plus synopsis.

Directed by Antoine Fuqua, the drama is set in Louisiana. 

Initially, the film was slated to film in Georgia, but the production moved to Louisiana due Georgia’s controversial GOP-backed election law, signed into effect by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp in March 2021. The law introduced new restrictions on voting by mail and a “greater legislative control over how elections are run,” according to CNBC. 

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Smith and Fuqua issued a joint statement regarding the decision to move the production from Georgia to Louisiana, saying they “cannot in good conscience provide economic support to a government that enacts regressive voting laws that are designed to restrict voter access. The new Georgia voting laws are reminiscent of voting impediments that were passed at the end of Reconstruction to prevent many Americans from voting.” 

WWL-TV reported that the crew started shooting in New Orleans, near Savannah, in June 2021. 

City spokesperson Beau Tidwell praised New Orleans for being a “welcoming city”. Emancipation was the first major production to leave Georgia in the backdrop of the election laws, with a staggering budget of $100 million. 

Tidwell also pointed out that Emancipation brings on “”significant investments — significant jobs — for New Orleans.” 

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Smith appeared on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah to promote the film. The two divulged the 2022 Oscar slap and the aftermath of the incident. Smith also revealed that he considers and understands the possibility that people would be wary of his post-Oscars films. “I would absolutely respect that and allow them their space to not be ready,” says The Pursuit of Happyness actor. 

Emancipation will make its theatrical debut on December 2, 2022, and will premiere on the streaming platform Apple TV Plus on December 9, 2022.