Emancipation producer slammed after walking on carpet with photo – The Hollywood Reporter

Joey McFarland, the Oscar-nominated producer who has made headlines in the past for his role in the 1MDB embezzlement scandal, is once again stirring up controversy. At the Emancipation Premiere Wednesday, McFarland turned heads by walking the red carpet with the original photo that inspired the movie, one that shows the scarred back of a man known as Peter who escaped slavery.

On the carpet, McFarland told reporters that he curates and owns a collection of photographs of African Americans from the 1800s, citing his “love of history.”

“They are so poorly curated, preserved and protected. And so over the past few decades I’ve been looking for and acquiring as many forgotten and lost photos as I could,” McFarland said. The Hollywood Reporter Wednesday. The one that has touched him the most, he said, is the photo known as The whipped back. During interviews, he showed the photo, and in videos circulating online, he said he brought it so “a piece of Peter” would be with him at the premiere.

On social media, critics were quick to question why these Civil War artifacts were in his personal collection instead of a museum. Franklin Leonard, the founder of The Black List, shared a lengthy thread seemingly questioning the decision and wondering if McFarland, who said he would donate his collection after his death, was talking about increasing the value of his collection .

Joey McFarland

Thanks to the staff

“Why do you own the photo? Why did you bring it to a movie premiere if the intention is to keep it respectful? You wanted ‘a piece of Peter’ here? Do you collect slave memorabilia that is donated after you die? What do you do with it in the meantime? So many questions, ‘Leonard tweetedapparently underway compare it to a superhero movie producer who walks the carpet with a rare comic book in hopes of increasing its value.

April Reign, who created #OscarsSoWhite, commented with “disgustthat McFarland branded his collection on Instagram #McFarlandCollection and then started posting Emancipation wrapped up.

“So many people look at this photo and use it as a symbol of slavery,” McFarland said THR of the photo that inspired the film. “It’s a human. What’s his story? Who are his family? What happened to him? So for me it was a deep dive. I’ve hired many historians; we dug deep into the archives and found his identity, we found his backstory, we put it together.

Emancipation stars Will Smith as Peter, with Antoine Fuqua directing. William N. Collage wrote the script.

The producer, who described himself Wednesday night as a “filmmaker, writer, amateur historian and passionate curator of truth,” said he sees the subject of the image as a hero and warrior, not a victim.

“We don’t have to ignore, hide or cover up the past. We must protect it. We must protect those scars, those wounds; we need to show them in full so we don’t make the same mistakes again,” McFarland continued. “We have to put together the stories, the pictures and the history before it is lost forever. That is part of my mission.”

McFarland has been involved in controversies in the past. He was embroiled in the 1MDB scandal, in which billions were siphoned out of the Malaysian sovereign wealth fund by Malaysian businessman Jho Low.

Low used some of his embezzled money to cozy up to A-listers and Hollywood figures, including Paris Hilton and Leonardo DiCaprio. Through Hilton, he befriended McFarland, who was then working as her party booker, and helped fund his ambitions to become a film producer by teaming him up with Riza Aziz so the two could launch and produce Red Granite Productions. The Wolf of Wall Street, which was funded by Low’s stolen millions. Aziz is now facing legal action in Malaysia, while his stepfather, former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, is currently serving a 12-year prison sentence for corruption. Red Granite eventually settled the embezzlement case with the U.S. government in 2018 for $60 million, while in 2019 the government seized tens of millions from accounts traced to McFarland, who also returned millions worth of artwork donated to him by Low.

McFarland, who was never charged with a crime, earned an Oscar nomination for The wolf of Wall Streetand also produced Christian Bale’s protagonist Out of the oven and father is home.

McFarland did not respond to a request for further comment.

—Alex Ritman contributed to this story.

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