You can count on Fox Searchlight to push their Sundance Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award winner and $17.5 million acquisition "Birth of a Nation" and its breakthrough first-time feature director Nate Parker, who also stars as rebel slave Nat Turner.
During the award season I saw how attendees approached Parker at the Directors Guild Awards, including Fox exec Stacey Snider. He has jumped to the top of the Hollywood food chain, and now he's getting feted at the exhibitors' national convention CinemaCon at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas (April 11-14, 2016). CinemaCon will present him with its breakthrough director of the year award during its awards show on April 14th. Some 5,000 theater owners and industry professionals attend every year, and many Oscar contenders have emerged at the convention, from "Life of Pi" to "The Revenant."
Written, directed and produced by Parker, “The Birth of a Nation" will get an awards friendly release on October 7th. Set in the antebellum South, the film follows literate slave and preacher Nat Turner, whose financially strained owner, Samuel Turner (Armie Hammer), accepts an offer to use Turner's preaching to subdue unruly slaves. As he witnesses countless atrocities against himself, his wife and his fellow slaves, Turner rallies an uprising against oppression.
Parker broke out in 2007 for his role in “The Great Debaters” followed by Searchlight's “The Secret Life of Bees,” “Red Tails,” “Arbitrage,” and “Red Hook Summer.” He has also appeared in “Pride,” “Dirty,” “Felon,” “1968 Tunnel Rats,” “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints" and “Beyond the Lights.” Parker has also written and directed multiple shorts including “#AmeriCan,” which won the Black Reel Award for Outstanding Independent Short and has appeared onstage in “American Voices” at the Broad Street Theater.