Is the Oscar run for Birth of a Nation in jeopardy? Possibly. Several events have been cancelled amid Nate Parker’s controversial rape case that hit the headlines once promo for the slave revolt film picked up. Get the latest inside…
Things aren’t looking good for Birth of a Nation.
The slave revolt film about Nat Turner created, directed and produced by Nate Parker is being pulled from film festivals amid all the media attention on Nate’s sketchy past. The Hollywood actor was accused of raping a woman in 1999 while he was a student at Penn State. While he was cleared on all charges in 2001, Nate tried to jump the gun, so to speak, reaching out to the media for interviews, seemingly trying to have his side of the story put out there before folks started speculating, but it seems to have backfired.
Since the whirlwind of controversy unfolded, we’re now seeing the repercussions of it all. And it’s hurting his new film.
The American Film Institute has axed a planned screening and Q&A with Nate that was scheduled to go down this Friday, according to Deadline. AFI dean Jan Schuette make the announcement in a note to the film school’s fellows that reads,
“I have been the recipient of many different passionate points of view about the screening, and I believe it is essential that we discuss these issues together –messenger and message, gender, race and more—before we see the film. Next week, we will be scheduling a special moderated discussion so we may explore these issues together as artists and audience.”
It's unclear if or when they will do the screening at a later date.
Following AFI pulling a screening, the Toronto International Film Festival has followed suit. The film was supposed to be screened several times throughout the festival, but the film is not listed anywhere on the full schedule out this morning.
A spokeswoman for the festival told Deadline, “That’s definitive, it’s definitely not going to happen.”
Nate was also supposed to present the film at several colleges in Toronto, but that’s no longer happening either.
While Nate will be absent from those events, Fox Searchlight, which paid a whopping $17.5 million for the film at the Sundance Film Festival, announced he will join the cast for press junket interviews in Toronto on the weekend of September 10th -11th.
Actor and social activist Harry Belafonte is weighing in on the controversy. In an interview with the Associated Press, the 89-year-old actor called Nate “a winner” and "a very bright young man."
While he says he doesn’t know what the facts are or what the truth is, he feels the movie shouldn’t be punished because of what happened in Nate's personal life. He's also suspicious of the timing of everything.
Below are a few quotes for his interview:
"It's interesting because it's coming out the same time the film's coming out. Of all the stories you can tell, why are you telling this story? And if he was somebody who had committed a crime and got away with it, but he faced the justice system," Belafonte said.
"The fact that (the system) may have screwed up, the fact that it didn't really take care of justice, the fact that he should have been punished or whatever is history. The fact is that he was confronted and then he did go through the process. Why are you bringing this up now? What has he done that requires this kind of animus?"
"How do I put it in a perspective that helps me with greater clarity understand why this is the consequence of something he's done by getting this high profile, 'cause this film is touching a lot of consciousness. Why isn't that the story?" Belafonte asked.
"And is this going to be the price that young black women and men pay for making films of substance?" he continued. "Are they going to dig in and get dirt instead of fruit? What are we doing here? And where is the voice that defends him if he in fact is worthy of defending?"
So what are your thoughts? Has this case, which Nate attempted to get ahead of by calling up press to speak about it, tarnished the film's run for an Oscar?
Tell us in the comments!