Sundance is on fire tonight. Most of the critics are white and everyone is sensitive to the #Oscarssowhite campaign. Three years after “12 Years a Slave,” there are no black Oscar nominees.
Tonight at the Sundance Film Festival they’ve just finished watching Nate Parker’s “The Birth of a Nation.” This is the 2016 movie about Nat Turner, the true story of a slave who led a rebellion in 1831 Virginia. This time the story is told by a black writer-director.
The original “Birth of a Nation,” made in 1915 by D.W. Griffith about the Civil War, was once considered a masterpiece; it is now shunned as racist. Times have changed.
According to accounts I’ve received, the film just got the longest sustained standing ovation of the festival. Parker, a young actor who got his start in Denzel Washington’s “The Great Debaters,” has been saying this was a passion project for seven years. Now it’s the hottest film at Sundance.
My spy on the scene writes: “It looked like a film made for at least three times the budget. The film was beautiful. Nate Parker got the first standing ovation I’ve ever seen before film even screened. Then huge standing ovation at the end.The film had some pretty graphic violence at times. Nate Parker said it took him 7 years to make the film. And that he put his life on the line to make it.”
Watch as this saga unfolds– given the current climate in Hollywood, this will be the Oscar movie to beat next year. Let’s see who wins the highest bid.
PS Was this film hard to make? There were 14 executive producers and 12 producers. Whew!