Before 2016, The Birth of a Nation was know primarily as the name of a 1915 silent propaganda film touting the monstrous Ku Klux Klan. Nate Parker sought to reclaim the title from white supremacists past and present and invested seven years and his own money to write, produce, direct and star in this historical drama that rocked the Sundance Film Festival in January. And it’s already paid off – beyond being critically-acclaimed (Parker just won the CinemaCon’s breakthrough director of the year), it nabbed a record $17.5 million release deal with Fox Searchlights.
The film chronicles the 1831 slave rebellion led by Nat Turner, a literate slave who became a traveling preacher with his owner Samuel Turner (Armie Hammer). Witnessing the horror of slavery day-in and day-out drives Turner to lead the bloodiest uprising in American history with the hope of attaining freedom from bondage.
Parker gave up numerous jobs, acting and otherwise, to focus solely on getting his film made. As we superhero nerds know from Ryan Reynolds and the Deadpool creative team’s decade-long journey to get that movie made, a labor of love is the surest way to know a film will be great to behold. Parker’s passion speaks volumes about the importance of this story and the boundaries it breaks by simply existing. Not recognizing a film like this at the Oscars next year could be heartbreaking for many after two consecutive #OscarsSoWhite controversies.
Below is the first teaser from the film, which is already set for an Oscar run with an awards-friendly release date of October 7. Penelope Ann Miller, Jackie Earle Haley, Mark Boone Jr. co-star.