The Birth of a Nation

Any way you slice it, The Birth of a Nation was one of the biggest success stories to come out of Sundance this year. The film got scooped up by Fox Searchlight for $17.5 million — a new Sundance record — and it walked away with the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award. By all accounts, the energy at the film’s premiere was electric. By the time I got to see it at the press screening the next day, word had spread and the lines to get in were some of the longest I saw at the entire festival.

So what’s all the fuss about? What is it about the movie that has everyone so hyped up, director and star Nate Parker being anointed as the Next Big Thing, and critics predicting awards nominations a full year ahead of schedule? Well, you’ll get to see for yourself this fall when the film hits theaters. But to give you a little taste in the meantime, here’s a new The Birth of a Nation trailer.
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Birth of a Nation

Of all the films that played at Sundance this year, perhaps none got more hype than Nate Parker‘s The Birth of a Nation. Not only did it get spectacular reviews, it scored the biggest Sundance deal ever, with Fox Searchlight forking over $17.5 million. The distributor promptly set Birth of a Nation for a fall release, right at the start of awards-movie season, and now it’s getting a head start on the marketing by dropping the very first promo.

Parker stars in his own directorial debut as Nat Turner, a devoutly religious slave who becomes a traveling preacher — and, eventually, the leader of the bloodiest slave rebellion in American history. Armie Hammer plays Nat’s owner, and Penelope Ann MillerJackie Earle Haley, and Aja Naomi King also star. Watch the Birth of a Nation trailer after the jump.  Read More »

The Birth of a Nation

In his debut feature as a director, Nate Parker attempts to do no less than reclaim American history in the name of the slaves who had their own lives and their own stories ripped away from them. This re-appropriation starts with the title — The Birth of a Nation is stolen from D.W. Griffith’s racist epic — and continues with an opening epigraph. “I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just,” reads the quote from Thomas Jefferson, famously a slave owner, “that his justice cannot sleep forever.”

Parker himself stars as Nat Turner, a Virginia slave who in 1831 led the deadliest slave rebellion in American history. By the end, about 60 whites had been killed — and a hundred or more blacks had been slaughtered in retaliation. The Birth of a Nation is the sorrowful, righteously angry chronicle of how Nat, a kind, charismatic, and devout preacher, came to spark a bloody uprising.

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