The Birth of A Nation: A Movie I invited Everyone to Watch, Now in Theaters

Birth of Nation - Nat Turner's rebellion against white supremacy

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The Birth of A Nation: A Movie I invite Everyone to Watch; An Experience About the Price of Freedom

Are you ready for an experience that will forever change  your perspective on how the United States of America, as a nation, was really born? Are you ready to change your perspective on the role played by Black slaves in liberating America from the shackles of human hatred and cruelty against each other, not as submissive beings but as leaders? Then get ready to learn from The Birth of a Nation.  

Nat TurnerThe Birth of a Nation, a film directed by Nate Parker,  is a biographical film about Nat Turner, the Black slave who led a slave rebellion in Southampton County, Virginia in 1831 against the White supremacy.  Not entirely historically accurate, it is based on the true story of Nat Turner. The rebellion resulted in the deaths of at least fifty white and 200 black people.

Photo: Nat Turner portrait.

 Following the line of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly,” Nate Parker and his friend Jean Celestin made this memorable epic about Nat Turner's inspirational story. Nat Turner, as a slave boy, was taught to read so that he can study the Bible and be a preacher to fellow slaves. When teaching him, the slave masters had the goal of using his preachings in reinforcing that slavery was blessed by God. When Turner's master takes him across the country on a preaching tour to profit from his preaching, Turner begins to see the scope of slavery and decides to become a different leader who would lead the liberation of his brothers and sisters from the white supremacy.


Nate Parker, a graduate of Penn State University, with the help of his Penn State friend, Jean Celestin,  wrote, produced, directed, and starred in the movie as Nat Turner. Nate Parker and Jean Celestin  co-wrote the story.  Nate Parker wrote the screenplay and sought investors to fund the film. He was able to secure a budget of US $10 million. The movie was  filmed in Georgia in May 2015.Birth of Nation: Nate Parker as Nat Turner

The main cast includes Nate Parker, Armie Hammer, Aja Naomi King, Earle Haley, Esther Scott, Gabrielle Union, and Jackie  Penelope Ann Miller.

The film premiered in competition at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival on January 25, 2016. Fox Searchlight Pictures bought worldwide rights to the film in a $17.5 million deal, the largest deal at the film festival to date. As recently predicted earlier this year (see here), the movie is showing in major movie theaters across the World. Critics have compared The Birth of a Nation to  the 2013 Steve McQueen's 12 Years A Slave. At the Toronto International Film Festival, the film was a hit, despite stories about rape controversies arising from when both Nate and Jean Celestin were students at Penn State University in 1990s.

For some, the film may be viewed as a propaganda and  a call to hatred.  However, Nate Parker, in a recent interview with CNN, has been quick to set the records straight: unlike Nat Turner's period, in  current times with  social media, mobile phones, and rights to free speech, people no longer need axes, picks spears, and other machetes to have their cause heard.  

With "The Birth of a Nation," Nate Parker, usually known for the "Great Debaters actor,  has established himself as a major filmmaker.  Births are usually painful. With time and a reflective perspective, viewers will come to appreciate the depth of the story and how  Nat Turner's revolt, despite its ugly side effects,  may have contributed to the birth of the United States, the greatest nation in the World,  from the ashes of slavery. 

The Birth of a Nation is a film to watch.

Felicien Kanyamibwa,PhD.


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