''The Birth Of A Nation'' Director and lead Nate Parker discusses America's racial past and present, amidst controversy about his own past and rape acquittal. Rough Cut. No reporter narration.
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) When "The Birth of a Nation" opens in theaters this week, its backers are hoping the film's buzz will finally shift away from the controversy dogging its creator and toward the slavery drama's powerful message about race relations in America.The film about Nat Turner, a West Virginian slave who led a rebellion in 1831, once hailed as an awards frontrunner, has been overshadowed by headlines about a 17-year-old rape case involving the writer, director, producer and lead actor, Nate Parker, who was acquitted at a 2001 trial. As Parker has sought to address the rape case in recent weeks, marketing for the film has shifted to promote the relevancy of the little-known story of Turner to today's Black Lives Matters movement.Television ads shown nationally interweave scenes of slaves running through cotton fields in 1831 with recent news images of protesters, with lips taped and "I Can't Breathe" signs, demonstrating over the deaths of unarmed black men by U.S. police. "Slavery in America, especially American slavery, was one of the most brutal experiences even known to man, the whole idea of shadow slavery, in the 1600s, laws were changed so the child of an enslaved woman would take on the lineage of the mother rather than the father, so these slave owners could increase their property through enslaved women," Parker told Reuters.