AFRICANGLOBE – With #OscarsSoWhite still very much on the forefront of the national conversation, filmmaker Nate Parker has not only subverted Hollywood’s racial bias, but he’s broken Sundance records in doing so with his new film, The Birth of a Nation.
Parker’s The Birth of a Nation, which boldly steals and vindicates its name from the notoriously racist 1915 Civil War film, has just concluded the “fiercest bidding war Sundance has ever seen,” eventually being sold at a previously-unheard of $17.5 million. (The previous record trails far behind at $10.5 million.)
Parker wrote, directed, and starred in the film, which depicts the slave revolt led by Nat Turner in 1831. “Growing up as a Black man in the South, there was such a shortage of heroism in respect to the history that I was taught,” Parker told the Hollywood Reporter. He had never even heard of Nat Turner until taking an African-American studies class in college.
“Imagine my dismay,” he said. “In learning that one of the greatest men to walk the soil in this country was a man who grew up and lived and breathed and fought less than 100 miles from where I grew up.”
Still from The Birth of a Nation
Ignoring objections from Hollywood producers that “Movies with Black leads don’t play internationally,” Parker told his agents that he would not be acting again until he could tell Nat Turner’s story. So began a grueling two year process of independently raising ten million dollars outside of the mainstream Hollywood studio system.
These same studios have eaten their words, fighting each other viciously today to throw money at Parker for the rights to his supposedly unmarketable movie with a mostly Black cast.
Parker hopes that he has helped to inspire this current generation of Black lives with Nat Turner’s story.
“Resistance lives in the air in this current moment,” Parker said. “Anyone who sees this film should leave the theater and feel compelled to be a change factor with respect to relations that are taking place in this country. But also, they should be proud to be an American. This country was built on rebellion. So when we talk about American heroes, people that fought against an oppressive force, I think that it’s a no-brainer that Nat Turner exists in that conversation.”
By: Nathan Wellman