Black Panther director Ryan Coogler has explained his decision to keep filming the upcoming sequel in Georgia despite controversial new voting laws in the state.
This year, new laws were set out in Georgia which mean all voters will require ID in order to vote, a move that many believe will disproportionately harm Black and ethnic minority voters.
In the wake of the laws being passed, a number of Hollywood productions have left Georgia, including Will Smith’s new slavery drama Emancipation.
In a joint statement announcing the move away from Georgia – the first major film to boycott the state following the new laws passing – Smith and director Antoine Fuqua said: “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.”
Coogler, though, has doubled down on his commitment to filming Black Panther 2 in the state despite being “profoundly disappointed” at the new laws being passed.
In a piece penned for Shadow and Act, the director said 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” the new laws.
He added: “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. I say this as I return to Georgia, a state that holds a special place in my heart.
“I lived in Atlanta for eight months while filming my last movie. I have long looked forward to returning. But, when I was informed of the passage of SB202 in the state, and its ramifications for the state’s voters, I was profoundly disappointed.”
Discussing his decision to remain in Georgia to film the sequel, Coogler said: “Having now spoken with voting rights activists in the state, 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.
“For those reasons, I will not be engaging in a boycott of Georgia. What I will be doing is using my voice to emphasise the effects of SB202, its shameful roots in Jim Crow, and doing all I can to support organisations fighting voter suppression here in the state.”
Black Panther 2 is due to arrive next year, and is set to begin shooting this July after original plans to begin production in March were delayed after the sudden death of star Chadwick Boseman in August.
Coogler recently said that shooting the sequel following Boseman’s death was “the hardest thing ever,” adding: “This is one of the more profound things that I’ve ever gone through in my life, having to be a part of keeping this project going without this particular person, who was like the glue that held it together.”