There are a lot of questions surrounding Will Smith’s new movie Emancipation, which is set to be released on Apple TV+. The film was one of many of the actor’s projects that saw setbacks following him slapping Chris Rock at the Academy Awards in March, and therefore its release date remains unknown. It was also thought to be an awards contender, but that’s also been complicated after Smith’s slap incident. While there’s definitely a lot we don’t know, some more light is being shed on Emancipation, after the film’s screening at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's 51st annual Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C., as those in attendance take to social media with their first reactions.
Will Smith stars in the action thriller as Peter, a slave who escapes his Louisiana plantation and joins the Union Army to fight against his former captors. Emancipation is based on the true story of Gordon, or “Whipped Peter,” who was the subject of photos released in 1863 that showed extensive scars on his back from the abuse he’d endured as a slave. Let’s see what people are saying about Antoine Fuqua’s movie and about Smith’s role in it.
Tonya J. Williams took to Twitter and called for Apple to release the film, after she witnessed the “gut-wrenching” portrayal of slavery:
The movie #Emancipation by @Apple Films is a powerful & gut wrenching depiction of the horrors of slavery in America.#WillSmith, who masterfully played the role Peter, spoke about how he (and we) hold space in this world using Peter’s life as the example. Release this film! pic.twitter.com/Fp9MDb04ywOctober 2, 2022
Emancipation is a huge departure from Will Smith’s usual body of work, as the actor said he has avoided making movies about slavery throughout his career. Social justice advocate and political commentator Angela Rye seems to approve of his choice to take on this role, as she thanks Smith and director Antoine Fuqua for telling this “powerful” story:
#Emancipation is a powerful story not only rooted in our history, but also our resilience as a people. Thank you @willsmith @AntoineFuqua @AppleTVplus for telling stories that matter! #Freedom #Power pic.twitter.com/8e3ROZY6qBOctober 2, 2022
NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson echoes those sentiments, thanking the actor and director for this story “of adversity, of resilience, of love, and of triumph”:
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!#ThisIsPowerOctober 1, 2022
Former Democratic National Committee chairwoman Donna Brazile praises the depiction of Black people fighting for their freedom. She asks for a release date to be set:
#Emancipation coming soon. Powerful picture highlighting how Black ppl fought for the freedom. @AppleTV We need to know the release day? #freedom@NAACPOctober 1, 2022
“Powerful” seems to be the word that all those in attendance keep coming back to, as Jotaka Eaddy was in agreement with the response to Antoine Fuqua’s story of resilience:
#Emancipation is Powerful and inspiring -our history and our resilence-#BlackLove and #BlackFreedom ! Powerful screening w/ @naacp and amazing convo led by @angela_rye ! Thank you @willsmith @AntoineFuqua @AppleTVPlus for daring to tell stories that are rooted in our liberation. pic.twitter.com/n7TQAIQIyyOctober 2, 2022
Despite Apple winning a huge bidding war to release Emancipation on its streaming service, Amber Takahashi hopes to see the film see some sort of theatrical release:
This movie was EVERYTHING. The cinematography, the hidden messages.. I need this in a theatre NOW @AppleTV #EmancipationOctober 2, 2022
Attendees of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation event certainly seem to have been moved by the private showing of the movie, and hopefully a release date will come soon. As far as how things pan out for awards for Emancipation, that was made complicated when Will Smith voluntarily resigned from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in the aftermath of the Oscars fallout. The actor is also banned from attending the Academy Awards ceremony for 10 years.
While we wait for news on Emancipation, check out our 2022 movie release schedule to see what films are hitting theaters soon!
Mom of two and hard-core '90s kid. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Thrives on New Orleans Saints football, The West Wing and taco trucks.
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