Can Nate Parker be forgiven?





First things first. Here are a few thoughts I had when I saw Nate Parker's "The Birth of A Nation" this past January:


"Recounting the story of Nat Turner, an African American Slave that lead a rebellion in 1831 to free African-Americans in Virgina. There’s blood soaked, sweat induced, passion in every frame of Nate Parker’s flawed film. You can never discount this kind of brazingly ferocious filmmaking, even when it’s by a first-time filmmaker still learning his narrative steps. The aptly titled film is bound to cause a stir when it gets released later this year, choosing the title of D.W Griffith’s grand, but very racist, 1915 masterpiece is a sign that the times might be in fact changing. Winning the Dramatic Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award is a sign that this movie is about to take Hollywood by storm. It was made to piss people off and get them out of their seats shouting, what more could you ask for in a movie?"

"Grand Jury Prize and the Dramatic Audience Prize consolidating a week’s worth of standing ovations in Park City for his ambitious, but flawed The Birth Of A Nation. At the premiere of the film Parker said he wished the film would become an “agent of change,” a kind of cumulative rebuttal to the #Oscarssowhite movement. It seems like that is already the case. One simple Google search of Birth Of A Nation reveals that Griffith’s seminal film has finally been sidelined by the most unexpected of contenders, a film written, directed, acted and produced by a 36 year old African-American journeyman that is finally getting his due and taking the industry by storm at the right place and at the right time."



I will say that had I been inclined to have the space and time to write a lengthier review of the film you would know what I meant by "flawed film." It did not deserve the Grand Jury Prize, sorry, it just didn't. Nevertheless I wasn't really slamming Parker or the film, whatsoever. I thought a film like this one could be very important to bring to the forefront of the mainstream. It's not necessarily the execution that matters here, but the idea behind it. We've already seen cops getting killed now by Black Panther-esque groups. Parker's vision is undeniably relevant. People are pissed off and not gonna take it anymore.

This was an incredible set-up for Parker to get heralded and championed with awards. HOWEVER, things have come to the forefront recently: a past case involving rape charges. Parker and, then wrestling teammate Jean MiGianni Celestin, were accused of raping a fellow Penn State student while she was intoxicated and unconscious. It doesn't stop there, they both started harassing her after she pressed charges on them. If you read the court orders and records of calls that are online you will see a helpless victimized girl, that just wanted to get an education, harassed both physically and mentally to the brink of near-suicide.

And that is whenI decided to right this. The Parker case was well-known, I even asked Hollywood Elsewhere's Jefferey Welles about it back in January to which he just shrugged it off and said the case is closed. He was right, the case was closed, but recently we found out the victim committed suicide, after two failed attempts, three years ago. Ok, here we go. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize how implicated Parker is to this. Can we, the public, actually forgive him for what he has done? That's none of our business. What is more important is if the victim's family should forgive him and, in a rather vague, but fascinating statement, they seemed to have definitely not forgiven Celestin and Parker.

There's also the matter of separating personal life from art. People seem to do that with Woody Allen or Roman Polanski, not that these are completely similar circumstances.. I am not one of the people that celebrated "The Birth of a Nation" back at Sundance, I thought it was a misguided, but respectable effort. I liked the idea of a movie like this opening up debate when it ccame out, but it's not a very good movie. With that said I can easily separate Mr. Parker art with his personal life, but I do think both of them are lacking in judgement.


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