Tag: “The Great Debaters”

Filmmaker Nate Parker to Launch New School Dedicated to Film and Drama at HBCU Wiley College

Nate Parker of 'The Birth of a Nation' (photo via Time.com)
Nate Parker of ‘The Birth of a Nation’ (photo via Time.com)

article by Tommy G. Meade Jr. via hbcubuzz.com

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.

‘Birth of a Nation’ Lands at Fox Searchlight in Record $17.5 Million Deal at Sundance Film Festival

The Birth of a Nation Sundance
Image from “Birth of a Nation” (COURTESY OF SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVA)L

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 reviewVariety 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

Wiley College ‘Great Debaters’ Win National Debate Championship

The Melvin B. Tolson/Denzel Washington Forensics Society of Wiley College has added another historic feat to its list of accomplishments by winning the Overall Sweepstakes Championship of the 2014 Pi Kappa Delta National Comprehensive Tournament. Wiley is the first historically black college to earn this national award.Wiley College Debaters

Wiley’s win comes during a record-making year for Pi Kappa Delta’s prestigious annual tournament – the 2014 event saw 80 schools (with 2,000 entries) competing to prove they have the best forensicators (speech and debate) in the country.

“We earn victories at Pi Kappa Delta each year, but this year’s overall championship victory is especially meaningful to Wiley,” said Haywood L. Strickland, Wiley’s President and CEO. “We are pleased that our students performed so well against all these strong teams. Their accomplishment is a clear reflection of the legacy of excellence at Wiley,” he said.  “We are grateful to Professor Melvin B. Tolson, Denzel Washington, and all who paved the way for this victory to occur.”

Forensic speech and debate is woven into the fabric of Wiley College. Notably, the College’s 1935 debate team, led by Professor Melvin B. Tolson, defeated the then reigning national forensics champion, University of Southern California.
The 2007 movieThe Great Debaters tells the story of this competition, and the movie’s star and director, Denzel Washington, donated the funding that helped relaunch the College’s debate team in 2008.

Wiley’s 23-member Forensics Team is coached by Chris Medina. The team will next travel to Tempe, Arizona, to compete in the American Forensics Association Nationals – a tournament of champions for selective student who qualify through earlier high tournament rankings. On the heels of that event, two members of the team will travel to Ypisilanti, Michigan, to compete in the National Forensics Association Nationals. Continue reading “Wiley College ‘Great Debaters’ Win National Debate Championship”