Birth of a Nation director Nate Parker to make first TV appearance since rape controversy

The writer-director is set to be interviewed by Anderson Cooper on CBS' 60 Minutes programme

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The Independent Culture

The complex narrative behind the release of former Oscar-frontrunner The Birth of a Nation continues, with writer-director Nate Parker set to make his first televised appearance since the erupting controversy surrounding previous rape charges. 

The Hollywood Reporter states Parker will appear on CBS' 60 Minutes, in an interview conducted by Anderson Cooper; as part of a segment set to air on Sunday, ahead of the film's US release. 

Though the interview was reportedly booked months before the scandal sparked, it seems guaranteed Cooper will question Parker about the case: a 1999 trial in which he and Jean Celestin (who co-wrote The Birth of a Nation) were accused of raping an 18-year-old woman while unconscious, when studying at Penn State.

Parker was acquitted in 2000, though Celestin was found guilty and sentenced to six months in prison, later appealing the verdict in a second trial which was thrown out due to the victim's inability to testify again. It emerged over summer that the woman at the centre of the case had repeatedly attempted to commit suicide in the weeks and months following her accusation, later dying in 2012 at age 30. 

Distributor Fox Searchlight, having paid a record $17.5 million for the film after its critically lauded debut at Sundance Film Festival, has tightly controlled the film's publicity since the controversy ignited; with the film's Toronto International Film Festival press conference growing heated under the moderator's total avoidance of questions about the scandal. 

The Birth Of A Nation - Trailer

Despite surrounding events, however, the film still received a standing ovation at the festival's screening; praised as a powerfully rendered depiction of the 1831 slave revolt led by preacher Nat Turner (played by Parker himself), a crucial historical moment in the path to abolition. On the cusp of its US release, the next few weeks will likely be critical in determining the lasting reception of the film both within (and outside of) its surrounding narrative. 

The Birth of a Nation hits UK cinemas 20 January. 

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