• Interviews

Nate Parker talks “The Birth of a Nation”

No other movie this year has been preceded by a buzz equal to that, which has surrounded The Birth of a Nation. Last January, with uncanny timing, Nate Parker’s telling of Nat Turner’s slave uprising of 1831, premiered to a memorable standing ovation at the Eccles Theater at Sundance. The cathartic reaction was telling of a difficult moment and a troubled country, in the midst of racial turmoil, the Black Lives Matter movement as well as the #OscarsSoWhite controversy. In that context Parker’s film, with its re-appropriation and “repurposing” of D.W. Griffith’s title was both an unflinching denunciation of white supremacy and an act of restoration and healing, which sparked a bidding war and the eventual sale to Fox Searchlight to the tune of $17 million. Then, this summer, controversy erupted around Parker with the resurfacing of the allegations of a rape he was accused of – and legally cleared of – thirteen years ago. Rarely, in other words, has a film been more hotly anticipated or culturally charged. The HFPA’s Sam Asi asked Parker why he believes that is.