Saturday, March 25, 2023 | Will Smith's first major film post-Oscars slap earns praise at... | Will Smith's first major film post-Oscars slap earns praise at special screening




Will Smith

Will Smith

Photo: Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

  • Will Smith attended a special screening of his new film, which is already earning positive reviews.
  • Emancipation is Smith’s first major film since his Oscar win, and slapping Chris Rock onstage at the ceremony.
  • Should the film generate any Oscars 2023 buzz, Smith will not be allowed to attend the ceremony; he is not allowed to attend the ceremony for another 10 years.

Will Smith’s first feature film since his Oscar win – and slapping Chris Rock – is already making waves.

Apple hosted a special screening of the new film Emancipation, by director Antoine Fuqua, with the NAACP during the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s 51st Annual Legislative Conference this weekend. 

In the film, Smith stars as Peter, an enslaved man who runs away from Louisiana in search of his family and ends up joining the Union Army.

The film, and Smith, were greeted with a warm reception, with NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson calling it “a story of adversity, of resilience, of love, and of triumph”.

Following the screening, which was shown to an audience of social impact leaders, Smith participated in a conversation with Fuqua, and Mary Elliott, curator of American Slavery at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, per Entertainment Weekly.

“Throughout my career, I’ve turned down many films that were set in slavery,” Smith said at the screening.

“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.”

This year’s Oscars saw Smith slap Chris Rock on stage during the ceremony in March.

Should Emancipation generate any Oscars 2023 buzz, Smith will not be allowed to attend the ceremony. After the incident, the actor – who won the Academy Award for his role in King Richard on the same night – was given a 10-year ban from participating in or attending any award ceremony associated with The Academy.

Months later, Smith reached out to Rock to apologise, but the comedian responded he’s “not ready to talk” just yet, according to Smith.

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