Story at a glance
- Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp passed a new law restricting voting by mail, among other things.
- Critics say the bill will disproportionately disenfranchise poor and Black voters in the state.
- A theatre production followed suit with the MLB, pulling their business from the state in protest of the law.
An upcoming drama about the emancipation of a slave will no longer be filmed in Georgia after the state passed a bill restricting voters’ rights that the filmmakers said was “reminiscent” of Reconstruction-era discrimination.
“At this moment in time, the Nation is coming to terms with its history and is attempting to eliminate vestiges of institutional racism to achieve true racial justice. We cannot in good conscience provide economic support to a government that enacts regressive voting laws that are designed to restrict voter access. The new Georgia voting laws are reminiscent of voting impediments that were passed at the end of Reconstruction to prevent many Americans from voting. Regrettably, we feel compelled to move our film production work from Georgia to another state,” star Will Smith and director Antoine Fuqua said in a statement reported by several media outlets.
The Republican-sponsored bill includes new restrictions on voting by mail and prohibits volunteers from distributing food and water to voters waiting in line while also establishing greater government control over how elections are run. Backlash to the legislation, which critics say will make it harder for poor and Black voters to participate in elections, has already cost the state millions of dollars in lost business.
Based on “the scourged back,” a historic image documenting the violence of slavery, “Emancipation” is about the slave, played by Smith, whose scarred back was captured in the photograph. The film, written by Willam N. Collage and directed by Antoine Fuqua, was bought by Apple last year for about $130 million, Deadline reported, and is scheduled to begin filming this June.
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