Mustafa Shakir, Charmaine Bingwa, Ben Foster, and Gilbert Owuor are joining Will Smith in Emancipation.
Antoine Fuqua is directing the Apple Original Film and Willam N. Collage penned the script.
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.
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The movie is inspired by Peter’s infamous image, 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.
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Bingwa was cast as Peter’s beloved wife Dodienne. Owuor will play Gordon, an enslaved man working at the same camp as Peter, with Shakir portraying Cailloux, a free Black man who serves in the Union Army.
Foster plays Fassel, who doggedly pursues any enslaved person who attempts to flee to freedom, including Peter.
Smith, James Lassiter and Jon Mone are producing Emancipation through Westbrook Studios. Apple Studios is producing the project alongside Escape Artists’ Todd Black and Joey McFarland of McFarland Entertainment. Fuqua is executive producing under his Fuqua Films banner, alongside Cliff Roberts.