In lieu of this year’s Oscar nominations, which have received major backlash due to the lack of diversity, film critics, actors and directors alike are all raving about Nate Parker’s written and directed slave rebellion drama Birth of Nation.
The film, which premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, received a robust round of applause and standing ovation during the roll credits of the nearly two-hour film. When Parker–who stars as Nat Turner–took to the stage for a Q&A, audience members stood again and clapped in what The Hollywood Reporter is saying is the longest standing O in recent festival memory.
The film chronicles Turner’s birth into slavery in the 1800s, all the way until he becomes a preacher, gets married and eventually spearheads a slave rebellion that leads to the death of dozens of white slave owners. During the Q&A, Parker says he gave up acting for two years to focus on the film, and spoke honestly about the hardships he encountered simply trying to receive funding for it.
“It was very difficult, for so many reasons,” he said. “I think any time we’re dealing with our history, specifically with slavery, I find that it has been desperately sanitized. There’s a resistance to dealing with this material.”
When asked what he hopes moviegoers will take from the film, Parker simply hopes it allows people to reflect upon themselves.
“I made this film for one reason, with the hope of creating change agents. That people can watch this film and be affected. That you can watch this film and see that there were systems that were in place that were corrupt and corrupted people and the legacy of that still lives with us,” said Parker. “I just want you, if you are affected and you are so moved, to ask yourself, ‘Are there systems in my life that need attention whether it be racial, gender?’ There are a lot of injustices.”
Congrats Mr. Parker. Well deserved.