The American Black Film Festival hosted a first look of the film
Parker is looking for his movie to spark real change
Nate Parker fought to make his film “The Birth of a Nation” and now he wants to share it.
“There is an entire curriculum that has been developed,” he said. “We are taking it to schools.”
Parker wrote, directed, produced and stars in “The Birth of a Nation,” which is set to release October 7. He told an audience at the American Black Film Festival in Miami on Friday that the film’s distributor shares his desire to make the lessons in the movie available to students.
Fox Searchlight Pictures purchased the “The Birth of a Nation” earlier this year at the Sundance Film Festival for a record breaking $17.5 million. Parker made the film for $7 million.
Parker said Fox Searchlight also supports his suggestion to premiere the film in different African countries.
The story of Nat Turner, who led a slave rebellion in Virginia in 1831, is a risky one for Hollywood. The violence in the film - reflective of true, historical events - is sure to earn it an “R” rating. There is also the issue of recent complaints from people like rapper Snoop Dogg, that they are tired of seeing slave narratives on both the big screen and small.
But Parker said he disagrees and points to how differently the history of the Holocaust has been treated in the United States versus the history of slavery.
“The mantra for our Jewish brothers and sisters is, ‘Never forget, never again,’” he told the audience. “Our mantra is, ‘Get over it.’”
Parker received multiple standing ovations from the audience who were shown scenes from the film and footage of its production. He was joined on stage by costars Aja Naomi King and Gabrielle Union.
Parker shared personal stories of his faith being tested through the making of the project. The movie was shot in Georgia in less than a month. Parker said he was even advised by a fellow black director to not do it.
“He said, ‘Are you sure you want to tell this story,’” Parker said of the director who he declined to name. “He said, ‘Why don’t you tell the story of [white abolitionist] John Brown instead?’”
But Parker told those assembled that he believed too strongly in the project to abandon it. He connected the story of Turner’s rebellion with the state of African Americans in the U.S. today. He added that the film is about more than the awards season buzz it’s already generating.
“If this film wins awards, but people see the film and behaviors don’t change, than we have lost,” Parker said. “This must not be a film that comes and goes.”