Whether you were at the Sundance Film Festival or not, you had to heard at least something about Nate Parker's directorial debut, The Birth of a Nation. The controversial subject matter alone, centering on (in)famous slave rebellion leader Nat Turner, made it a hot topic of discussion as Hollywood figures out its diversity problem. But the film was also met with near universal acclaim upon its world premiere, and sold for a record-shattering $17.5M to Fox Searchlight, who immediately placed it in the thick of the Oscar race. And now you can see what all of the fuss was about as the first trailer has arrived.
Parker, who stars as Turner, took two years away from acting to write and direct his passion project. Set in the antebellum South, the film centers on Turner, a well-educated slave and preacher, and the factors that drove him to lead the biggest slave revolt in our history. Despite the dozens killed during the attacks, many still see him as a hero for fighting back against the injustice of slavery. Armie Hammer, Penelope Ann Miller, Jackie Earle Haley, Mark Boone Jr., Colman Domingo, Aunjanue Ellis, Dwight Henry, Aja Naomi King, Esther Scott, Roger Guenveur Smith, and Gabrielle Union co-star.
While I agreed with most about the power of Parker's film, and appreciated its focus on Turner and not the bloodshed, I had concerns about it being the obvious Best Picture contender some think it will be. Whatever happens, expect The Birth of a Nation to cause a major stir when it opens October 7th. In fact, you can check out my interview with Parker where we address the inevitable backlash the film is bound to face.