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

The $17.5 million that Fox Searchlight paid for The Birth of a Nation was the single biggest deal in Sundance history. So of course the distributor has huge plans for the movie — including, it appears, a bid for next year’s awards race. Fox Searchlight has just announced a fall 2016 release date for Nate Parker‘s slave drama, which lit up this year’s Sundance Film Festival.  Read More »

The Birth of a Nation

Today the 2016 Sundance Film Festival is coming to a close, and Saturday night, the awards for feature filmmaking were handed out to the movies that played in Park City, Utah. The big prizes from the festival are the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award, one given by a select group of jurors and the other chosen by the festival attendees themselves. In 2014, Whiplash took both awards, and this year we have another film taking the two honors as Nate Parker‘s slave rebellion tale The Birth of a Nation was announced to receive both.

Find out the full list of other 2016 Sundance Film Festival awards winners below. 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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About Alex trailer

Jesse Zwick‘s About Alex isn’t technically a remake of The Big Chill, but it might as well be. Both films center on groups of college friends who reunite when one of their own, named Alex, tries to kill himself. The difference is that in About Alex, he’s not successful.

Concerned, Alex’s friends plan a getaway weekend so that they can keep an eye on him. Drama predictably ensues as old attractions and new tensions bubble to the surface. Jason Ritter plays the title character, and Aubrey Plaza, Max Greenfield, Maggie Grace, Jane Levy, Max Minghella, and Nate Parker round out his clique. Watch the About Alex trailer after the jump.

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The American remake of Oldboy was stuck in development hell for so long, it was unclear it’d ever get made. But Spike Lee and his financiers have persevered, and now cameras are actually rolling on the revenge thriller — as you can see from a fresh batch of set photos showing Lee, his star Josh Brolin, and more.

Meanwhile, the project’s also making one last-minute change to its lineup. James Ransone has stepped up to replace his Red Hook Summer co-star Nate Parker in a supporting role, after the latter was forced to drop out due to scheduling issues. Read more and check out the new images after the jump.

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Spike Lee is turning to some familiar faces to help round out the cast of his Oldboy remake. After adding his Do the Right Thing star Samuel L. Jackson a few weeks back, Lee is turning to his Red Hook Summer actor Nate Parker for another supporting role. The up-and-comer’s other credits include ArbitrageRed Tails and The Secret Life of Bees.

A remake of Chan-wook Park‘s hit South Korean thriller, Oldboy centers around a man (Josh Brolin) out to exact revenge on the person who kidnapped and imprisoned him for mysterious reasons. Sharlto Copley plays the villain, while Elizabeth Olsen co-stars as a woman who aids and romances Brolin’s character. Parker is in talks to play a doctor colleague of Olsen’s. Oldboy will shoot this fall, likely for a 2013 release. [Variety]

After the jump, Carrie and The Evil Dead get synopses, and José Padilha responds to talk of Robocop difficulties.

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I really love the action we’ve seen in the first two trailers for the George Lucas-produced, Anthony Hemingway-directed WWII film Red Tails. In both the first trailer and this new one, we see some spectacular dogfighting action. It’s the sort of stuff that any student of Lucas knows has been the filmmaker’s major preoccupation for decades. Seeing these encounters created as direct (if exaggerated) representations of World War II, rather than filtered through the lens of Star Wars, is pretty neat.

As for the rest of the footage… well, the acting looks a bit on the uninspired side, doesn’t it? I’m not sure that will even matter, because between the action and the ‘against all odds’ true story of the Tuskegee Airmen, Red Tails might have to really work overtime before it stalls out. Read More »

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Break out your best ‘delayed flight’ metaphors: the George Lucas-produced film Red Tails, which follows the exploits of WWII flyers the Tuskegee Airmen, is finally going to hit skies. Or screens, as it were. The date: January 20, 2012, confirming previous info from director Anthony Hemingway that the film would be released this coming January.

Along with that release date the trailer for the film has just hit. Get a look at the war film that was many years in the making, after the break. Read More »