Los Angeles (AFP)
Will Smith’s dramatic “emancipation” of slavery will be released in Georgia after the southern US state passes a vote on the law, which critics say will reduce voter turnout in black and white communities in other underrepresented societies.
Georgia has emerged as a major production center for the US film industry in recent years, but the “liberalization” movement follows mounting public criticism and boycott by businesses, sports and entertainment organizations over the measure that sparked controversy in the state last month.
“We cannot consciously provide financial support to a government that enacts retroactive voting laws aimed at restricting voter access,” Smith and Director Antoine Fuqua said in a statement.
“Unfortunately, we are feeling under pressure to move our film production business from Georgia to another state.”
The measure imposed by the Republican Governor of Georgia imposes voter identification requirements, limits the number of ballot boxes and forbids volunteers from giving bottles of water to voters who may have to queue for hours.
Critics likened the matter to the restrictions imposed on the Jim Crow era used to suppress the political power of African Americans.
Smith and Fuqua, famous for “Training Day” at the Oscars from 2001, wrote that “Georgia’s new election laws remind us of the voting barriers that were passed at the end of Reconstruction to prevent many Americans from voting.”
President Joe Biden narrowly defeated Donald Trump in Georgia, one of the most contested states in the 2020 election.
Trump falsely claimed he lost in the state due to voter fraud, following an unprecedented turnout due to the increased use of early voting and mail voting during the coronavirus pandemic.
Blacks in Georgia – which has a long history of slavery and apartheid – faced decades of trying to block their vote.
To protest against the new law, Major League Baseball has moved the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta, while Delta Airlines and Coca-Cola are among the Georgia-based companies that are publicly critical of the state.
In Hollywood, the response was much milder before Monday’s announcement.
James Mangold, director of “Ford v Ferrari,” who will direct the upcoming “Indiana Jones”, spoke against the voting restrictions, tweeting, “I don’t want to play there. I’m not telling anyone else what to do.”
Star Wars actor Mark Hamill tweeted his support for Mangold and used the hashtag #NoMoreFilmingInGeorgia.
But many major Hollywood productions have been shot in Peach State thanks to tax breaks, costs and reduced weather conditions, including Marvel superhero films, “Walking Dead” TV series and several projects such as the recent “Coming 2”. Tyler Perry’s spacious studios.
Smith will interpret “emancipation” as a fugitive from slavery on a painful journey through northern Louisiana in search of freedom. His character, Peter, is inspired by the famous image of a slave with his back disfigured with a skin he received on a farm, nicknamed “Whiskered Peter”.
© 2021 AFP