Will Smith
CANNES, FRANCE - MAY 17: Actor Will Smith attends the "Ismael's Ghosts (Les Fantomes d'Ismael)" screening and Opening Gala during the 70th annual Cannes Film Festival at Palais des Festivals on May 17, 2017 in Cannes, France. (Photo by Matthias Nareyek/Getty Images)

Will Smith and ‘Training Day’ Director Antoine Fuqua Team Up For Runaway Slave Movie

Will Smith is taking a serious turn on the silver screen in a based-on-a-true-story action thriller. It’s called Emancipation and it follows the story of Peter, a runaway slave who flees a Southern plantation and endures a dangerous route through the Louisiana swamps in search of freedom. Once he reaches the North, he joins the Union Army.

The story is informed by a photograph of a former slave, who, during an Army medical examination, revealed a bare back scarred from whipping. The image was printed in the July 4, 1863, edition of Harper’s Weekly and was widely circulated by abolitionists to raise awareness about the sinister nature of slavery.

“It was the first viral image of the brutality of slavery that the world saw,” director Antoine Fuqua (of Training Day fame) told Deadline. “Which is interesting, when you put it into perspective with today and social media and what the world is seeing, again. 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 all have to look for a brighter future for us all, for everyone. That’s one of the most important reasons to do things right now, is show our history. We have to face our truth before we can move forward.”

Apple Original Films purchased the project for a cool $105 million, edging out six other competitors. Production begins in early 2021, though given current events, we could really use a film like this right now.

Cover Photo: Matthias Nareyek / Stringer (Getty Images)

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