Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs is hoping moviegoers are invested in Nate Turner slave rebellion drama The Birth of a Nation, not the director’s dubious past.
Speaking with TMZ on Thursday (Aug. 25), Boone says the impact the film has made on the industry is worth admiring, not Parker’s 1999 rape case which has been given new life ahead of the film’s release. “I know just by the conversation that has gone on at Sundance that it’s clearly a movie that filmgoers should go and see,” Boone said referring to the film being bought by Fox Searchlight in a record $17.5 million deal at Sundance last year. While Boone hasn’t seen the film just yet, she said the audience should look into the issue of the film and Parker’s personal woes differently.
“That’s one issue, that’s his personal issue,” she said. “And then there’s the issue of the movie. The important thing is for people to see it and enjoy the film, be impressed by the film. And I think that is what is very important. People need to see this movie.”
Some have considered boycotting the film to condemn Parker. On Tuesday (Aug. 23) the American Film Institute canceled a screening and a Q&A of the film after deciding to host a discussion based on the topics raised in Parker’s trial. The following day, the Toronto Internation Film Festival announced Birth of a Nation would not be a part of their press conferences. According to Variety, this has happened in the past with critically acclaimed films that were premiered at Sundance, such as the Oscar-nominated love story, Brooklyn.
There’s a chance it’s just timing, but in the end, it looks like the film is taking more losses just weeks before it hits the big screen.