Nate Parker’s film on Nat Turner, the man who led a slave liberation movement in 1831, debuted at the Sundance Film Festival on Monday. The crowd gave The Birth of a Nation — which Parker wrote, produced and directed — a standing ovation, and it received rave reviews. The next morning, Fox Searchlight approached the actor to buy worldwide rights to the movie for a whopping $17.5 million — the biggest sale of a festival film in history.
Parker, who is known for amazing performances in films like Beyond the Lights and The Great Debaters, began the process of writing the film seven years ago. He then quit acting for two years to get the film made.
“When I learned about this in college, it was something I gravitated toward,” Parker said of Turner’s historic story. “I felt like even before I became a filmmaker, this was something I wanted to acclaim and apply to my life.”
He said that regardless of the outcome at Sundance, he would have felt proud of what he and his team accomplished with the movie.
“I keep saying, ‘We’ve won already. The movie exists, we contributed to it as a family, it belongs to us,'” Parker said to the film’s cast and crew at the screening, according to The Hollywood Reporter. “Everything that comes after this is bonus.”
The film also received an offer of $20 million from Netflix, but sources say Parker was more interested in a theatrical release.
Are you excited about seeing The Birth of a Nation on the big screen?