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The Birth of a Nation

Panorama | Special Presentations

Nate Parker produces, writes, directs and stars in this provocatively named and extraordinarily powerful historical drama chronicling the slave rebellion in the southern US led by Nat Turner in 1831. At a young age, Turner was recognized as a smart boy and groomed to be a preacher for other black slaves. In Parker’s telling, the young Turner leads a relatively sheltered life: while forced to pick cotton like the rest of his family and friends, he is protected to a large degree by his long-standing friendship with his owner, Samuel Turner (Armie Hammer), with whom Nat grew up. But when his increasingly brutal master lends Nat to other slave owners so Turner can use his pacifistic Biblical message to keep unruly slaves in check, the vicious reality he sees—and which Parker ably conveys—proves too much for him. He sets about organizing the violent rebellion that reverberates in the American psyche to this day…

“Perhaps the most impressive thing about The Birth of a Nation is how it alternates between the aestheticized and the immediate without compromising either. Scenes of abject horror are intercut with more dreamlike, symbolic passages, creating a push-pull to the narrative. It’s a beautiful, reflective film even as it is also a brutal, visceral one. That stylistic dialectic reflects the turmoil within Nat—his struggle to reconcile the world he sees with the world he reads about in the Bible. And his inability to do so, in essence, powers the explosion of blood that comes at the end. More than a movie about a slave rebellion, it’s about the difficulty of reconciling the great moral chasms between thought, vision, and deed.”—Bilge Ebiri, New York Magazine

Grand Jury Prize, Audience Award, Sundance 16

Director Nate Parker
Country of Origin: USA
Year: 2016
Running Time: 119 mins
Format: DCP
Cast: Nate Parker, Armie Hammer, Aja Naomi King, Jackie Earle Haley, Gabrielle Union, Mark Boone Jr.
Executive Producer: David S. Goyer, Michael Novogratz, Michael Finley, Tony Parker, Jason Cloth, Andy Pollack, Allan J. Stitt, Jane Oster, Barb Lee, Carl H. Lindner III, Derrick Brooks, Jill and Ryan Ahrens, Armin Tehrany, Edward Zwick, Mark Moran
Producer: Nate Parker, Kevin Turner, Jason Michael Berman, Aaron L. Gilbert, Preston L. Holmes
Screenwriter: Nate Parker
Cinematographer: Elliot Davis
Editor: Steven Rosenblum
Production Design: Geoffrey Kirkland
Music: Henry Jackman
Production Company: Bron Studios / Phantom Four / Mandalay Pictures / Tiny Giant Productions
Print Source: Fox Searchlight Pictures

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