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