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Georgia filmed 'The Birth of a Nation' earns praise and dollars


BY SHEILA POOLE

“The Birth of a Nation” an explosive new slave rebellion film shot in Savannah is not only receiving high praise but top dollars as well.

Fox Searchlight Pictures has acquired worldwide rights to writer, director, producer and star Nate Parker’s much talked about slave drama, which received a standing ovation following its Sundance Film Festival debut.

The pricetag? A staggering, $17.5 million, which is a record-setting figure for any film ever purchased at Sundance.

The film stars Parker, Armie Hammer, Penelope Ann Miller, Jackie Earle Haley, Mark Boone Jr., Colman Domingo, Aunjanue Ellis, Dwight Henry, Aja Naomi King, Esther Scott, Roger Guenveur Smith and Gabrielle Union.

It will be released nationwide this year.

Talk about the film has dominated Black Twitter and other social media.

It definitely won’t be confused with that other “The Birth of A Nation,” a 1915 film directed by D.W. Griffith that gives a very distorted view of the South after the Civil War, glorifying the Klan.

The firm is set in the antebellum South and follows Nat Turner, a literate slave and preacher, whose financially strained owner, Samuel Turner, accepts an offer to use Nat’s preaching to subdue unruly slaves. As he witnesses countless atrocities - against himself and his fellow slaves - Nat orchestrates an uprising in the hopes of leading his people to freedom.

"I made this film for one reason — with the hope of creating change agents,” Parker said during the premiere, according to the Hollywood Reporter . “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. 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."

The O word, as in Oscars , is already making the rounds. The Oscar awards have come under fire for its lack of diversity in the top line categories. There have been calls for viewing and attendance boycotts.

Parker is also known for his role in the 2007 film, “The Great Debaters.” And “Beyond the Lights.”


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About the Author

Nedra Rhone has been a features reporter with the AJC for 10 years. She’s written about everything from fashion to food to news.