Apple on Saturday gave its first screening of Emancipation, a thriller directed by Antoine Fuqua and starring Will Smith as a black slave who recovers after being whipped and nearly killed, and then searches for his family.
Will Smith has already made his first comments about the film in a follow-up discussion following Saturday’s private screening during the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s 51st Annual Legislative Conference in Washington.
Apple has not set a release date for the film, but it was previously suspected that it should be released in time to be considered for Oscar consideration.
Emancipation tells the story of the first photos to go “viral”
William N. Collage’s screenplay was inspired by photographs taken of Peter in 1863 when the man, a former slave, joined the army in the hope of finding his family. The photographs were seen by many at the time and stimulated opposition to slavery.
The images were a symbolic precursor to the photographs of Emmett Till’s dead body, the Rodney King video, and later the video of George Floyd’s murder.
There’s a problem, though: as good as this movie is, Will Smith holds a ten-year ban from attending the Oscars in any way after the slap he gave comedian Chris Rock at this year’s gala.
So it remains to be seen how Emancipation will fare in terms of any awards it might win, given Smith’s persona non grata status.
Beyond that, perhaps fans won’t be swayed by what happened at the Oscars, and this film has every chance of being much more appreciated in theaters than by the eventual critics who won’t be able to officially rate the quality of the film.