The Birth of a Nation was the talk of this year’s Sundance Film Festival, and now the nonprofit behind the annual Park City event is celebrating the pic’s director-star. The Sundance Institute said today that Nate Parker will receive its Vanguard Award.
Parker, who also wrote the screenplay, will be honored August 11 at Night Before Next, a summer celebration benefiting the Institute and its artists on the eve of Sundance Next Fest at the Theatre at Ace Hotel in downtown Los Angeles.
“We are excited to honor Nate Parker as he prepares to release the extraordinary film TheBirth of a Nation, which we supported during development and premiered at our Festival,” said Keri Putnam, Executive Director of Sundance Institute.
The Birth of a Nation, which Fox Searchlight acquired for a festival-record $17.5M at Sundance, centers on Nat Turner (Parker), a literate, enslaved man and preacher whose financially strapped owner (Armie Hammer) accepts an offer to use Nat’s preaching to subdue unruly slaves. As he witnesses countless atrocities — against himself and his fellow slaves — Turner orchestrates an uprising in the hope of leading his people to freedom. The film also stars Jackie Earle Haley, Gabrielle Union, Penelope Ann Miller, Aunjanue Ellis, Mark Boone Junior and Aja Naomi King.
Ever since actor/director Nate Parker‘s “Birth of a Nation” caused a sensation at this year’s Sundance Film Festival by landing the biggest distribution deal made thre ever, we have been waiting to hear and see more. Today is the day, as Fox Searchlight has released the film’s first teaser trailer. This drama about Nat Turner and the revolt he lead in 1831 is set to be released in theaters this October. Check it out:
Wiley College officially announced early Sunday that “Beyond the Lights” and “The Great Debaters” actor Nate Parker, who is also a director, producer, writer and musical performer, is starting a film and drama school there to help empower young people in East Texas and across the country.
(The film The Great Debaters depicts the black college debate team beating Harvard College in the 1930s, though, the team actually didn’t face off against Harvard. At the time, historically black Wiley College was David and University of Southern California was Goliath, and indeed David defeated Goliath in this matchup.)
KLTV reported on Friday that Nate Parker has been keeping tabs on the black college and “even using their a capella choir for the soundtrack of his film The Birth of a Nation,” as well as announcing his election to the college board of trustees, in which Parker said he’s “honored” to serve at the position.
Now when exactly does classes begin? Here’s what we know:
The first classes for the Nate Parker School of Film and Drama will be held in the fall.
Before that though, about 30 high school and college students, after being picked, will have the opportunity to join a nine day summer institute as a pilot program for the school.
In addition, ten current seniors at the black college have already been picked to serve at the institute this summer as staff.
But those are short-term goals for the school. Nate Parker also wants to “bring Hollywood back to East Texas” and to “create a pipeline toward filmmaking physically through developing the college, having filmmakers be nurtured and cultivated here, and then having somewhere for them to go with respect for them actually being able to engage in filmmaking here in East Texas, then it kind of serves multiple purposes,” he said.
“You control the moving picture, you control the masses. So really getting them rallied around the idea of re-claiming the narrative of America, specifically through the eyes of people of color,” Parker said.
“The Birth of a Nation” filmmaker Nate Parker will write the movie adaptation of the inspirational wrestling story “Carry On.” Walden Media will develop, finance and produce “Carry On,” based on Lisa Fenn’s memoir that’s due to be published by HarperCollins in August.
Fenn is an ESPN producer who went back to her hometown of Cleveland in 2009 to pursue a story about two disabled wrestlers who attended an impoverished public high school. Dartanyon Crockett, legally blind yet the best wrestler on the team, would carry Leroy Sutton, who had lost both his legs in a train accident when he was 11, to practices and meets.
Fenn formed a connection with the two young men and dedicated the next six years of her life to ensuring their success. Sutton graduated from college and Crockett won a bronze medal at the 2012 Paralympic Games.
UPDATE, 7:45 PM: It’s a double win for The Birth Of A Nation tonight at the Sundance Film Festival Awards. First the Nate Parker-directed, written and starring film won the U.S Dramatic Audience Award and now it has scored the prestigious U.S. Dramatic Jury Award.
“Sundance is like a great summer camp experience,” said a clearly humbled Parker onstage. “This has been like the greatest moment of my career,” he added. “It just means so much.” This is the fourth year in a row that the same film has won both the U.S. Audience and Jury awards. Ryan Coogler’s Fruitvale, which was renamed Fruitvale Station upon wide release won both awards in 2013, Whiplash won in 2014 and Me and Earl and the Dying Girl won last year.
PREVIOUS, 7:10 PM: After an emotional and acclaimed debut screening on January 25 and a record breaking $17.5 million pick-up by Fox Searchlight the very next morning, The Birth of a Nation sealed its Sundance Film Festival tonight with yet another big win. The Nate Parker directed and starring passion project about Nat Turner’s 19th century slave uprising took the Audience Award for U.S Dramatic Saturday night in Park City.
Thank you Lord, Thank you Sundance,” said Parker taking the stage with the film’s producers Jason Michael Berman, Aaron Gilbert, Brenda Gilbert and EP Ryan Ahrens. “I’ve seen first hand that people are open to the idea of change and the fact that this is happening means everything to me, “ Parker added of the issues raised in the film and the reaction it’s received. “Thank you to everyone who voted for the film, he also said to big applause. “I share this with you.” The film is also in the running for the U.S. Dramatic Jury Award at Sundance this year.
Made for under $10 million by the Red Tails actor with the likes of San Antonio Spurs’ star Tony Parker coming in as an EP, the visceral Nation depicts the horror of the system of slavery and the 48-hour revolt Turner instigated in 1831 in Virginia. And Yes, in this time of the diversity and #OscarsSoWhite discussion that Hollywood is engaged in unfortunately again, if you feel you recognize the name, it’s because Parker re-appropriated the title of the infamous 1915 film by D.W. Griffith that helped reinvigorate the KKK in America.
With Parker as Turner and Armie Hammer, Gabrielle Union, Penelope Ann Miller, Aja Naomi King and Chike Okonkwo co-starring, the film saw multiple standing ovations and tears streaming down the faces of patrons at its packed Eccles Theatre premiere. Within minutes, potential buyers were working the phones in the lobby and an all night bidding war between Netflix, Sony Pictures, the Weinstein Company, Byron Allen’s Entertainment Studios and others broke out.
In the end, it was Fox Searchlight that Parker, his producers and WME went with. “Ultimately with Searchlight I felt a connection and a humanity on just a human level, not to say that it wasn’t there with the others, but there was a relationship and a synergy with respect to what impact we wanted it have on the world – a global approach,” Parker told me on the morning of January 26 just hours after the deal was done.
A global approach for a pic that now has its first but likely not last award in hand.
article by Dominic Patten and Patrick Hipes via deadline.com
Fox Searchlight, the specialty films division of 21st Century Fox, is closing a $17.5 million deal to acquire worldwide rights to “The Birth of a Nation,” a drama about the 1831 slave rebellion led by Nat Turner, that had an electrifying premiere at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.
The Weinstein Company, Netflix, Paramount, and Sony were among the companies making offers on the picture. Bidding lasted through the night, with one company, believed to be Netflix, offering $20 million for the picture. The deal is the richest in Sundance history.
The film was written and directed by Nate Parker, who also stars as Turner and invested his own money in the production. Parker is best known for his work in “The Great Debaters” and “Beyond the Lights.” The response to the picture was seismic and the Oscar buzz erupted as soon as the lights went up following the picture’s debut at the Eccles Theatre.
In a rave review, Variety critic Justin Chang wrote, “‘The Birth of a Nation’ exists to provoke a serious debate about the necessity and limitations of empathy, the morality of retaliatory violence, and the ongoing black struggle for justice and equality in this country. It earns that debate and then some.”
The cast includes Armie Hammer, Penelope Ann Miller, Jackie Earle Haley and Mark Boone Junior.
article by Brent Lang and Ramin Setoodeh via Variety.com
Chiké Okonkwo (Banshee, BBC’s Paradox) has been cast in Nate Parker’s The Birth of A Nation. He joins an ensemble that includes Jackie Earle Haley, Armie Hammer, Colman Domingo, Penelope Ann Miller and Mark Boone Junior in the historical drama based on the true story of the 1831 slave rebellion led by Nat Turner.
Okonkwo plays a brutalized slave who becomes a freedom fighter and ally to Turner (Parker) during the rebellion. Prompted by religious visions, Turner and a band of about 70 slaves killed between 55 and 65 people in Virginia. The rebellion was stopped after two days, but Turner survived in hiding for more than two months.
Parker is producing and directing from his own script. The film is a Bron Studios, Phantom Four, Mandalay Pictures and Tiny Giant Productions picture, in association with Follow Through Productions, Infinity Entertainment, and Creative Wealth Media Finance. Producers are Bron’s Aaron L. Gilbert, Kevin Turen, Jason Michael Berman, and Preston Holmes. Filming is underway in Savannah, GA.
“Belle,” “Beyond the Lights,” “Dear White People,” “Get On Up” and “Selma” have grabbed top film nominations for the 46th annual NAACP Image Awards.
The Image Awards will be handed out Feb. 6 in a ceremony telecast live by TV One.
“Get On Up” star Chadwick Boseman, “Selma’s” David Oyelowo, Nate Parker of “Beyond the Lights,” Gugu Mbatha-Raw of “Belle” and Tessa Thompson of “Dear White People” are among the actors who were cited.
Boseman, Oyelowo and Mbatha-Raw are all portraying real-life people.
In the TV heat, ABC freshman “Black-ish” and “How to Get Away with Murder,” Netflix’s “Orange Is the New Black,” BET’s “The Game” and “Being Mary Jane” were among the top nominees. ABC did well, earning three of the five drama-series nominations. Also notable was Lifetime’s scoring seven of the 10 nominations in the two lead acting categories for telefilm/miniseries/dramatic special.
Here is a full list of Image Award nominees:
“Belle” (Fox Searchlight Pictures/ DJ Films)
“Beyond The Lights” (Relativity Media)
“Dear White People” (Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions)
“Get On Up” (Universal Pictures)
“Selma” (Paramount Pictures)
Actor in a Motion Picture
Chadwick Boseman – “Get On Up” (Universal Pictures)
David Oyelowo – “Selma” (Paramount Pictures)
Denzel Washington – “The Equalizer” (Columbia Pictures)
Idris Elba – “No Good Deed” (Screen Gems)
Nate Parker – “Beyond The Lights” (Relativity Media)
Actress in a Motion Picture
Gugu Mbatha-Raw – “Belle” (Fox Searchlight Pictures/ DJ Films)
Quvenzhané Wallis – “Annie” (Columbia Pictures)
Taraji P. Henson – “No Good Deed” (Screen Gems)
Tessa Thompson – “Dear White People” (Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions)
Viola Davis – “The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby” (The Weinstein Company)
After the first preview audience screening of “Love & Basketball” a 17 year-old Black boy said, “The movie taught me how to love.” Fourteen years later, after the first preview audience screening of “beyond the lights,” a 17 year-old Black boy said, “I didn’t really believe in hope and love before, but this movie changed me.” That is why I make movies. Movies have power. Power to impact society and the choices we make. I want to entertain, but I also want to say something to the world.
I love movies. And I dig a great love story; the kind that wrecks me, then builds me back up and leaves me inspired. I write what I want to see. I wanted to make a love story with two people of color in the lead. Not a romantic comedy. A love story. “Beyond the Lights” took incredible fight to get made. Four years of writing, and two years of overcoming “no.” Every studio balked. Twice. But I kept fighting. What gave me the courage was “Love & Basketball.” Every studio turned down that film, too. But I never gave up because I believed in it with my whole heart and soul.
I had the same passion for this story. People ask me all the time if I feel discriminated against as a black female director and I actually don’t. I get offered a ton of stuff. But I like to direct what I’ve written. I feel what’s discriminated against are my choices, which is to focus on people of color as real people. Those are the films that rarely get made and those are the films that take a lot more fight. But I’m up for the fight, because if we don’t fight for this we stay invisible. I want us to look up on the screen and see ourselves reflected beautifully. I want us to look up on screen and learn how to love the right way. I want us to look up on screen and see a black man who is strong, sexy, complicated, and real. I want us to look up on screen and see a black woman fighting to find her voice, find her authentic self and be brave enough to live an authentic life. I want us to look up on screen and be inspired to want more for ourselves, to want to love, and to love ourselves.
There is a perception within our community and the world that black people don’t love each other. That we don’t fight for each other. That perception is so dangerous. We need positive images to counter the negative portrayals we see every day. And positive doesn’t mean perfect. Perfect is boring. I want real. But more than anything, “beyond the lights” is a really good movie experience that I don’t want you to miss. It is the kind of movie that should be shared. That collective explosive reaction to character, story, and music is fun. The advanced screenings have been like revivals. Audiences break into applause during the movie. Phenomenal performances. Insane chemistry between Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Nate Parker. Dope music. Beautifully complex mother/daughter and father/son relationships that are rarely explored with people of color. You will laugh. You may cry. You will feel. And you may be changed. I hope you check out the film over this holiday weekend. It is a time to be grateful. It is time to be inspired. It is a time to fight.