Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Ryan Coogler is denouncing Georgia’s new restrictive voting laws and explains why he will still film “Black Panther II” in the state.
Coogler penned an op-ed, shared with Shadow and Act, speaking out against the controversial legislation.
“The fight for full enfranchisement is fundamental to the African-American struggle in this country and to this country’s claim to functioning democracy,” Coogler wrote. “As an African-American, and as a citizen, I oppose all attempts, explicit and otherwise, to shrink the electorate and reduce access to the ballot.”
The new election law includes voter restrictions like ID requirements for absentee voting, reduces the number of ballot drop boxes, and makes it illegal to give food and water to voters in line. The legislation, signed by Gov. Kemp in March, has drawn widespread criticism from voting rights groups, political figures and Hollywood power players alike.
Coogler explained that, while he was “profoundly disappointed” to learn of the passage of the controversial legislation, he’s also been moved to take action after speaking with Georgia voting rights activists.
“I have come to understand that many of the people employed by my film, including all the local vendors and businesses we engage, are the very same people who will bear the brunt of SB202,” Coogler wrote.
The prospect of a boycott of Georgia, which has been a major production hub for the entertainment industry for more than a decade, has loomed large since the bill was first introduced. “Logan” director James Mangold called for a boycott of the state in late March. Earlier this week, it was announced that Will Smith and Antoine Fuqua’s slave drama “Emancipation” will no longer film in Georgia. On the other side of coin, Atlanta-based mogul Tyler Perry called the voting law “unconstitutional” and said it “harkens to the Jim Crow era,” but urged the industry to remember the political progress that’d been made in the state recently, stating “That’s the beauty of democracy.”
Coogler has no plans to take his multimillion Marvel production elsewhere.
“Our film is staying in Georgia,” Coogler said of “Black Panther 2,” which will reportedly begin filming later this year. “Additionally, I have made a personal commitment to raise awareness about ways to help overturn this harmful bill, and continue to get educated on this matter from people on the ground.”
“I will encourage everyone working with me to tap in with the local community directly affected by Senate Bill 202 and to leverage their influence and resources to aid in the fight for this particular and essential pillar of democracy,” he concluded.
In addition to continuing to film in the state, Coogler says he will donate to Fair Fight Action, supporting their efforts to fight the bill.
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