“Emancipation” tells the triumphant story of Peter (Smith), a man who
escapes from slavery, relying on his wits, unwavering faith and deep love
for his family to evade 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.