Courtesy of Fox Searchlight, this September I traveled to the Toronto Film Festival in Canada to take part in an advance screening of new film The Birth of a Nation and take part in a Q&A with its director and star Nate Parker. I'm a movie-head, so this project first caught my attention earlier in the year when it received massive praise and multi million dollar bids at the Sundance film Festival. From the moment I heard its premise and saw some of the imaging...I was DYING to see it.
The film tells the tale of Nat Turner, a slave turned revolutionary who led an 1831 rebellion of slaves and free blacks in Virginia. The horrors of slavery are evident in the movie but the thing I found myself really horrified by were the similarities between then and now in regards to what is allowed and what many choose to remain silent about. Watching people be apathetic in any time is hard to stomach.
The moment the credits rolled after our screening I felt paralyzed. I couldn't move an inch. Sitting there with a wet face from tears, my breathing was labored and my heart, beating fast. I stumbled out of the theatre Zombie like, not knowing what to do next. When one of the event workers asked me what I thought of it so he could capture my response to be used as a promotional review...all I could manage was a muffled "Soul Stirring" before I walked outside in the rain.
The first thought that came to mind was that I needed a strong drink to take the edge off. Instead, I decided to call my friend Punch (who had already seen it) and hold him hostage on the phone to go over every scene with me while I roamed the rainy streets of Toronto.
The following morning I joined several radio personalities and journo's for a round table press interview with the cast. We had a chance to speak with Aja Naomi King, Colman Domingo, Aunjanue Ellis and the extraordinary Nate Parker.
Below I'm sharing the audio from our Q & A with Nate. And as I'm sure you will discover when you press play...he is an incredibly brilliant and thoughtful person. I was deeply inspired by not only his desire to tell such a difficult and unpopular story but also the connection he has to his personal faith.
I had a chance to connect with Nate the following day and pick his brain (off the record) about the state of the world and his relationship with God. This man has a powerful voice and world view that I believe can prove very healing to the people he comes in contact with. It bothers me the way the media is choosing to attack him and hinder the success of this film. No matter what your opinions of him or this time period of our American History, I implore you to see this and listen to the interview before you draw any conclusions.
The birth of a nation is not only a masterpiece, it also urgently important. Get to the theatre to see it!