Actor Nate Parker directs and produces a movie based on the life of rebellion leader Nat Turner. The Birth of A Nation is coming to theaters and it's already getting praise. Given the situation surrounding the Oscars and the lack of diversity in the entertainment industry, many see this movie as a perfect timing.
The movie was not inspired by the KKK-theme movie produced by D.W. Griffith.
Parker who plays the role of slave-turned Baptist leader Nat Turner. Turner lead a revolt across Virginia killing White slave owners and led many slaves to the North. The Southampton revolt (known as the Nat Turner Rebellion) in August 1831. Led by Nat Turner, rebel slaves killed anywhere from 55 to 65 people, the highest number of fatalities caused by any slave uprising in the Southern United States. The rebellion was put down within a few days, but Turner survived in hiding for more than two months afterwards. The rebellion was effectively suppressed at Belmont Plantation on the morning of August 23, 1831.
There was widespread fear in the aftermath of the rebellion, and White militias organized in retaliation against the slaves. The state executed 56 slaves accused of being part of the rebellion. In the frenzy, many non-participant slaves were punished. At least 100 African Americans, and possibly up to 200, were murdered by militias and mobs in the area. Across the South, state legislatures passed new laws prohibiting education of slaves and free black people, restricting rights of assembly and other civil rights for free black people, and requiring white ministers to be present at all worship services.
Turner eluded capture by hiding in the woods until October 30, when he was discovered by a farmer named Benjamin Phipps, where he was hiding in a hole covered with fence rails. While awaiting his trial, Turner confessed his knowledge of the rebellion to attorney Thomas Ruffin Gray.
|Nate Parker plays the role of Nat Turner, the rebellion leader of the Southampton massacre.|
In the aftermath of the insurrection there were 45 slaves, including Turner, and five free blacks tried for insurrection and related crimes in Southampton. Of the 45 slaves tried, 15 were acquitted. Of the 30 convicted, 18 were hanged, while 12 were sold out of state. Of the five free blacks tried for participation in the insurrection, one was hanged, while the others were acquitted.
Soon after Turner's execution, Thomas Ruffin Gray took it upon himself to publish The Confessions of Nat Turner, derived partly from research done while Turner was in hiding and partly from jailhouse conversations with Turner before trial. This work is considered the primary historical document regarding Nat Turner.
The film The Birth of a Nation will be released to select theaters. The 2016 film uses the same title as "the title of D.W. Griffith's 1915 KKK propaganda film in a very purposeful way", said The Hollywood Reporter. Nate Parker said his film had the same title "ironically, but very much by design".
It's gotten praise for the graphic and historical take on Turner's rebellion. It is written, produced, and directed by Nate Parker, who also stars as Nat Turner. Parker wrote the screenplay and petitioned financiers to invest in the film. It ultimately had a $10 million production budget and was filmed in the U.S. state of Georgia in May 2015. Along with Parker, the film features Armie Hammer, Aja Naomi King, Jackie Earle Haley, Penelope Ann Miller, and Gabrielle Union.
The film premiered in competition at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival on January 25, 2016. Fox Searchlight Pictures bought worldwide rights to the film in a $17.5 million deal, the largest deal at the film festival to date.