Back in January the annual Sundance Film Festival took place and showcased a broad range of noteworthy independent films. However, at this year’s festival one film really stuck out to both critics and audience members: The Birth of a Nation. Not only did this movie win the highly sought after “Grand Jury Prize” (in the drama category), but it also picked up an “Audience Award” as well.
So what is The Birth of A Nation all about? Well, the story takes place in Southampton County, Virginia in 1831. It centers on the true story of a man named Nat Turner, who fearlessly led a rebellion of African-American slaves. He proceeded to guide the increasingly large, as they went plantation to plantation attempting to free others from their unimaginable circumstances.
The movie is truly the brainchild of Nate Parker, as the star wrote, directed, produced and starred (as Nat Turner) in it. Parker has already received praise for past roles, including his portrayal of Neil in The Secret Life of Bees and Henry Lowe in The Great Debaters. However, he is truly showing his ambition and talent in this latest project.
In addition to Nate Parker, the movie also enlists several other well-known and talented actors to tell the captivating story. Actor Armie Hammer (The Social Network) plays Samuel Turner, who is Nat’s owner. In the film, Samuel profits off of Nat’s ability to preach and empower crowds by taking him on a tour across the country. However, this exposure to other communities is what subsequently prompts Nat to take action against the evident injustices against African-Americans. In addition, The Birth of A Nation also stars actress Gabrielle Union (Being Mary Jane) and Mark Boone Junior (Sons of Anarchy).
On the heels of the success of similar period movies, such as Django: Unchained and Seven Years A Slave, The Birth of A Nation yet again brings audiences into the unbelievable, yet truthful realities of slavery in America’s past. Thus, it isn’t all too surprising that it ended up landing the biggest contract with a major movie studio in Sundance Festival history. Fox Searchlight inevitably wound up offering $17.5 million for the worldwide rights to the film. Therefore, things are just beginning to gear up for its wide release.
In an all-new trailer for the movie, audiences are given a glimpse of what they can expect from the award-winning film. The clip opens up with Nat Turner providing his preaching services to a group of white folk, including his owner Samuel. While most other slaves are assigned solely manual labor, Nat’s literacy and ability to communicate the words of the Lord, lead him to being the resident preacher within the plantation he is enslaved on. However, he is soon after seen utilizing his commanding presence to rally fellow slaves. Thus, an uprising begins to take shape, as Nat and his followers decide to take on those who have mercilessly imposed pain and suffering upon them.
With a current score of 96% on movie review site Rotten Tomatoes, The Birth of a Nation is well on its way to commercial success. In fact, the movie has already gotten some Oscar buzz.
Simply by the title of the film, which was purposely made the same as a 1915 Ku Klux Klan propaganda film, it is evident that Nate is hoping to further an important (and relevant) conversation. By showing the mistakes and injustices of America’s past, it hopefully will lend itself to being a catalyst for further change to a more accepting and peaceful future.
You can watch The Birth of a Nation when it hits theaters on October 7th, 2016.