Nate Parker brings the real life story of Nat Turner’s slave rebellion to the big screen this weekend.
"Birth of a Nation" tells the story of a literate slave preacher who’s widely unknown slave rebellion is credited by some as a catalyst to the build up of the Civil War.
Parker’s labor of love, spanned eight years from conception to the big screen and took him down a path of rejections, facing overwhelming odds and eventual triumphs. The film, which performed extraordinarily well at early Sundance screenings, prompted Fox Searchlight to fork over a record $17.5 million asking price and sparked early Oscar buzz.
“I don’t think that many people try to make a film for awards. I think they make a film when something speaks to them," Parker said when asked about his Oscar hopes. "And to be honest I didn't intend on being the writer, director, producer and star. My intention was making this film and telling this story.”
Parker took the reigns of the project despite initial misgivings concerning his ability to direct.
“I knew I wanted to, but I was a little nervous. I didn't go to film school. So I was a little bit insecure. And what I didn’t want to do was allow my ego to get involved, direct the film and it fail. And then think to myself, ‘I should have just gone to someone else.’”
Nate stars alongside Gabrielle Union and both actors in keeping with the movie’s strong theme of rebellion, challenged the concepts of injustice and what it truly means to be both a patriot and a hero.
“In a time where the Prison Industrial Complex is destroying us, where the broken education system is destroying us, when the redistribution of wealth post slavery, and the destruction of black bodies is destroying us, gentrification [etc.]… it is all taking a toll. At some point, someone has to stand up.”
Birth of a Nation opens in theaters nationwide this weekend.