Nate Parker to appear on 60 Minutes

Thanks Jefferey Welles over at Hollywood-Elsewhere for the heads-up:



EDIT: It seems like he will not apologize in this interview. From a just released clip we have Parker saying that he got exonerated and found not guilty and doesn't need to apologize ...

So here's my history with Nate Parker's "The Birth of a Nation"
I reviewed it at Sundance this past January with very mixed feelings.

Excerpts from my 1.19.16 rumblings:


"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. 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 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. Parker makes mistakes and those mistake do end up costing him. Portraying Turner as Jesus-like figure doesn't help, nor does the fact that he fumblingly sets up his story in a lame almost skittish way. The actual rebellion only happens near the end. Bad decision. Parker isn't fit yet to carry such a heavy subject matter as a director, his amateurish mistakes are absurd and almost too naive, but his mind and passion are in the right place and his movie relevant as ever, which is why so many here are on Team Parker"

Fine. This sounds like a C+ kind of movie which is what I would have given the film back in Park City. People went gaga over it which, I found, really had to do more with current political climate than the actual quality of the film itself.

With that Sundance triumph Parker was well headed to the Oscars with his film, but then BOOM. Controversy struck:

"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.

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."

Ok, so now we have a problem and The Toronto International Film Festival, an event that was supposed to crown the film, was right around the corner. I was sent down by The Playlist to cover the press conference which ended up being a total clusterfuck:

"The mood was awkward at today’s press conference, as Parker kept dodging questions concerning his past. “This is a forum for the film, the people sitting on the stage, I don’t want to hijack it with my personal life,” he said when asked why he hadn’t yet apologized to the family of the woman at the centre of the case. “Respectfully I want to continue to celebrate the people that are in front of us today.” His outspoken co-star Gabrielle Union concurred, “There is the art and there is the artist, these are two different things … To those that want to stay home I tell them whatever issue you have bring it to the theatre and judge for yourself.”
Parker seemed content with having his cast answering some of the more pertinent questions, but stepped in to confirm that the release and awards push are continuing on as planned. “I can’t speak for the [distributor] Fox [Searchlight]. We are still moving forward as planned with everything.” He went on to elaborate “I don’t pretend to be an expert on people’s reactions. I’m a filmmaker. I am going to stand in that lane and stay there.”
He didn't really seem to apologize in any way, shape or form. Which is really what people are asking for. He was even asked why he hasn't apologized by the NY Times and completely dodged, deviated that question.

The film's reviews have been a little more tepid since then, oh critics, and all that brings us to this Sunday's 60 Minutes interview. Which, I understand, has been in the works weeks before than infamous TIFF presser. Maybe he was waiting for a national audience to "officially" say he's sorry.

Archive