Quite frankly, I would hold off on any “Winning the Oscar” predictions for this dramatization of the Nat Turner Rebellion. As any student of American History should know, the Nat Turner Rebellion was one of many acts of defiance and outright rebellion by slaves being held in bondage. Making the Southern Myth of “happy darkies down on the Plantation” utterly bankrupt.
The film has been a major hit at the Sundance Film Festival, whether that will carry through to larger commercial success dealing with this decidedly uncomfortable chapter in American History for the confederate flag waivers…Is yo be seen.
Actor-director-producer Nate Parker made history by inking a landmark $17.5 million Sundance deal to sell his slavery drama The Birth of A Nation to Fox Searchlight, starting his 2017 Oscar campaign a full year early. The vibrant and lyrical portrait of the divisive African American hero is an incendiary inquiry into themes of racism and faith that still echo today.
A perfect storm of elements converged to make Parker’s pre-Civil War slavery biopic the most electrifying debut of this year. It began, of course, with the provocative true story of Turner, a slave and preacher turned rebel leader whose violent uprising left 60 white slave-owning men, women, and children slaughtered and has long occupied a morally ambiguous place in American history books.
Then, from Nat to Nate: Parker’s own seven-year quest to bring Turner’s story to the screen—boldly co-opting its title from D.W. Griffiths’s 1915 film, one of American cinema’s most famously racist “classics”—saw him quit acting for a year to finally make it happen after being discouraged time and again. In the end it took a village, as evidenced by end credits naming four production companies, over a dozen exec producers, and special thanks to folks like George Lucas and, curiously enough, Mel Gibson.
And third, the fortuitous confluence of timing that aligned The Birth of a Nation’s world premiere with peak industry fury over racial homogeny at next month’s Academy Awards. This year’s Oscars will be so white, but 2017 now already has its first Best Picture contender of color since 12 Years A Slave—not coincidentally, also about the ugly stain slavery left on America’s past.
As journalists scrambled to ask every marginally famous celebrity about the lack of black Oscar nominees this year in the snowy white-blanketed and predominantly white ski resort town of Park City, Utah, The Birth of a Nation felt all the more urgent and relevant. “If it doesn’t get nominated next year,” I heard a (Caucasian) man joke, cluelessly reaching for the zeitgeist while waiting for a shuttle at Sundance, “there could be an uprising!”
Some might dismiss the film’s hot buzz as merely a byproduct of the diversity crisis in Hollywood—particularly serendipitous timing for a movie directed, co-written, produced by, and starring an African American filmmaker, about the most despicable era for racial injustice in our country’s history. But it’s not so much the series of documented events depicted in The Birth of a Nation that earn it its resonance, as it is the stirring, soulful, and incendiary spirit that courses through its veins, anchored by an utterly extraordinary performance by Parker himself.
The real Turner was a slave and homegrown Baptist preacher famed for spreading the gospel in sermons to other slaves. He reported having religious visions and took a solar anomaly in the skies in August of 1831 as a sign from God to commence his bloody insurrection…Read The Rest Here…