Unlike the other slaves, Nat Turner, played by Parker himself, learned to read the bible before he was forced to work in the cotton fields. Growing unrest among the slaves compels the financially strained slave-owner to ask Nat to preach to them, in the hope that God’s word will subdue their unruliness. However, as preacher, Nat becomes acutely aware of every assault leveled against the slaves and resolves to find a way to give his people freedom.

Shot in Savannah, The Birth of a Nation is a powerful and stirring examination of the horrors of slave trade and its depressing and all too visible legacy. The detailed characterization and intelligent handling of the subject matter contribute to making a film that is as complex and nuanced as it is powerful. Through Nat Turner, manipulated and confused by the few seemingly kind hearted white people he meets, we discover the tangled and problematic nature of his situation, especially as he starts to realize that his religion may have made him complicit in the abuse of his people.

The Birth of a Nation poster
Title
The Birth of a Nation
Director
Nate Parker
Country
USA
Length
110 min
Festival
2016
Section
Competition
Language
English
Production year
2016
Cast
Nate Parker, Armie Hammer, Mark Boone Junior
Producer
Jason Michael Berman, Aaron L. Gilbert, Preston L. Holmes, Nate Parker, Kevin Turen
Script
Jean McGianni Celestin, Nate Parker
Music
Henry Jackman
See all films from the 2016 festival