In attendance were a handful of tastemakers in the industry, I’m talking folks like Rihanna and A$AP Rocky, Dave Chappelle, Tyler Perry, Kenya Barris and more. Photos of the group were posted to Smith’s official Instagram, with both Perry and Barris reflecting on the film in separate posts later that evening.
“#Emancipation is pure art, power, and everything else a film should be,” the Black-ish creator wrote in his Instagram story. “You got one @willsmith.”
Perry also penned in his story, “I’m still haunted by #Emancipation. It’s truly powerful, moving and captivating. And the conversation afterwards with this group was legendary. Thank you @willsmith for the preview.”
As previously reported by The Root, the release of Emancipation was put in limbo due to the Hollywood aftermath of the infamous Chris Rock/Oscars slap that took place back in March. But earlier this month, Apple decided to move ahead with the film and revealed the official trailer and its release date set for later this year. The film was also screened for the very first time in Washington D.C. at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s 51st Annual Legislative Conference for a select audience
In Emancipation, Smith stars as an escaped slave by the name of Peter who, “relying on his wits, unwavering faith and deep love for his family,” evades “cold-blooded hunters and the unforgiving swamps of Louisiana on his quest for freedom. The film is inspired by the 1863 photos of ‘Whipped Peter,’ taken during a Union Army medical examination, that first appeared in Harper’s Weekly. One image, known as ‘The Scourged Back,’ which shows Peter’s bare back mutilated by a whipping delivered by his enslavers, ultimately contributed to growing public opposition to slavery.”
The forthcoming film is set to hit theaters on Dec. 2 and Apple TV+ on Dec. 9.