Fuqua Films and Westbrook Inc., announced in a statement that can be seen on Instagram, that movie, Emancipation, starring Will Smith will not be filmed in Georgia. The statement released states, “Fuqua Films and Westbrook Inc. withdrawal film production of “Emancipation” from state of Georgia as a result of new voting restrictions.” The caption confirming that film production was set to start in June, a few short months away.
Emancipation, the movie financed by Apple Studios is a movie based on the true story of, Gordon also known as, “Whipped Peter.” The movie is based on 1863 “The scourged back,” which is a famous photo of a runaway slave’s whipped back that became widely circulated by abolitionists to speak out against slavery. Director and Producer of Emancipation, Antoine Fuqua, spoke on the photograph in an earlier interview, according to Deadline, stating, “It was the first viral image of the brutality of slavery that the world saw.” He continued with,
“You can’t fix the past, but you can remind people of the past and I think we have to, in an accurate, real way. We have to face our truth before we can move forward.”
Based on the nature of the film and Fuqua’s passionate insistence of accurately depicting past racial injustices, moving film production outside of Georgia seems like a no brainer. Will Smith, Co-producer, and star character in the film was the recent host of Netflix series, Amend: The Fight For America, a series that explored constitutional equality. Together, Fuqua and Smith seem to be standing up for equality by matching their actions with their words. The statement put out by them continued to state,
“At this moment in time, the Nation is coming to terms with its history and is attempting to eliminate vestiges of institutional racism to achieve true racial justice. We 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.”
Are you wondering what changes were made to Georgia’s voting laws? According to news reports, on March 31, a bill was signed by the governor of Georgia, Brian Kemp said to make “Elections more secure.” Some changes that were made will affect absentee votes and where ballots can be dropped off. Amongst all of the changes to voting laws, the two that seem to be causing the most uproar are ID requirements for mail in ballots and the ban of food and refreshments for voters waiting in line. There were many other that you can read more about here. According to CBS news, the ID requirement alone will disproportionately affect voters of color. Many of the laws will seemingly have an adverse affect on the disabled, those of color and people who live in overpopulated counties.
There is no wonder why Fuqua and Smith have decided to move film production elsewhere. According to Deadline, film production will change locations to Louisiana. Many other corporations have also joined forces recently in speaking out against the new voting laws. Equality, social justice, racism and freedom are topics that we are all too familiar with seeing lately. A constant reminder of why America must truly face its past before moving forward as a nation. Hopefully, this bold statement of moving film production can gain enough attention to bring more viewers to the box office. The synopsis of the film seems like an important story that needs to be told. America may not be as far removed from its deep roots of slavery as it portrays.