Will Smith and Antoine Fuqua are no longer filming slave drama Emancipation in Georgia after Gov. Brian Kemp signed the state’s controversial new voting law last month.
“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,” Fuqua and Smith said in a Monday statement. “We cannot in good conscience provide economic support to a government that enacts regressive voting laws that are designed to restrict voter access.”
Georgia’s Republican-controlled state Legislature passed a law that introduced stiffer voter identification requirements for absentee balloting, limited drop boxes and gave the State Election Board new powers to intervene in county election offices and to remove and replace local election officials. Opponents have said the law is designed to reduce the impact of minority voters.
The filmmakers did not say to which state they would move the film, however, according to Deadline, it is likely they will shoot in Louisiana, where the actual events of the thriller took place.
Fuqua is directing Emancipation for Apple+ which won the picture after an intense bidding war.
Emancipation is based on the true story of runaway slave named Peter (Smith). He is forced to outwit cold-blooded hunters and the punishing Louisiana swamp on a tortuous journey to the Union Army. For his only chance at freedom.
Emancipation also accompanies the infamous image that is Peter, in which he showed his bareback during an Army medical examination, photos were taken of the scars from a whipping delivered by an overseer on the plantation owned by John and Bridget Lyons that nearly killed him.
The photo is known as “the scourged back” was published by the Independent in May 1863 and then in Harper’s Weekly‘s July 4 issue, it became indisputable proof of the cruelty and barbarity of slavery in America.
The photo reached around the world, and legend has it that it made countries like France refuse to buy cotton from the South. It solidified the cause of abolitionists and prompted many free blacks to join the Union Army.