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*Will Smith seemingly came out of hiding to speak about his new Apple TV+ film “Emancipation” during the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s 51st Annual Legislative Conference.

The film had its first screening during the event that was hosted by the NAACP on Saturday (Oct. 1), according to The Hollywood Reporter.

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Smith participated in a conversation after the screening with director Antoine Fuqua and Mary Elliott, curator of American Slavery at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, and host Angela Rye.

“Throughout my career, I’ve turned down many films that were set in slavery. I never wanted to show us like that. And then this picture came along. And this is not a film about slavery. This is a film about freedom. This is a film about resilience. This is a film about faith,” said Smith about the film.

The film “Emancipation” is based on true events about a slave named Peter who is famously known for the photograph of his bare back covered in scars from a brutal whipping. Smith plays Peter, who escapes his plantation in Louisiana in search of his family. While evading capture, Peter joins the Union Army, per Movie Web.

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“This is a film about the heart of a man — what could be called the first viral image. Cameras had just been created, and the image of whipped Peter went around the world. It was a rallying cry against slavery, and this was a story that exploded and blossomed in my heart that I wanted to be able to deliver to you in a way that only Antoine Fuqua could deliver,” Smith said at Saturday’s event.

Smith’s comments mark the first time he spoke to an audience since he slapped Chris Rock at the Oscars earlier this year.

Apple TV+ has not yet announced a release date for “Emancipation,” but the film has received glowing reactions from those who attended the first screening over the weekend, Complex reports.

Watch the trailer below.

 

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