Will Smith’s highly anticipated and already controversial new film, Concussion, will make its worldwide premiere at the upcoming American Film Institute (AFI) Fest on Nov.10.
Centering around a 2009 GQ magazine article, the film tells the story of Dr. Bennet Omalu, a Nigerian-born forensic neuropathologist who found chronic traumatic encephalopathy in the brains of NFL players, discovering a link between football injuries and early-onset dementia that could possibly lead to death. He soon became at odds with the NFL after making the diagnosis.
The film recently made headlines after a New York Times story claimed that last year’s Sony email hack uncovered correspondence that reveals certain edits were made to the film to avoid the ire of the billion-dollar NFL. Sony officials downplayed the article and claimed that it was “written by individuals who have not seen the film” and that the piece “contains many misleading inferences.”
According to Sony executive Tom Rothman, the film is more a feel-good David vs. Goliath story than a vehicle to bring down the NFL.
“Concussion is a great American immigrant story,” Rothman says. “An outsider, whose greatest aspiration is to belong, takes on an American corporate Goliath at incredible personal risk. His only weapon is the knowledge that he is right and his belief that in America, truth will prevail.”
Despite the early controversy surrounding the film, inside industry chatter already has it as a potential contender for next year’s awards season.
Written and directed by Peter Landesman, the film is also bolstered by a stellar ensemble cast including Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Albert Brooks, Alec Baldwin, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Luke Wilson and Paul Reiser.
Concussion opens in theaters across the country on Christmas Day.