The Birth of a Nation: Watch the teaser trailer for the film that set Sundance alight

Nate Parker's film premiered to standing ovations at Sundance in January, going on to win the festival’s Grand Jury and Audience prizes, and sparking a bidding war between distributors

Tim Walker
Friday 15 April 2016 18:36

Fox Searchlight has released the first teaser for The Birth of a Nation, the slave rebellion drama that broke sales records at the Sundance film festival and is already building Oscar buzz for 2017. The historical drama was written and directed by 36-year-old actor Nate Parker, who also stars as Nat Turner, the leader of a slave revolt in Virginia in 1831.

After it premiered to several standing ovations at Sundance in January, the film won the festival’s Grand Jury and Audience prizes, and sparked a bidding war between distributors. Fox Searchlight, which also released the 2014 Oscar winner 12 Years a Slave, eventually agreed to pay $17.5m (£12.2m) for The Birth of a Nation, a Sundance record.

Given the #OscarsSoWhite controversy over the lack of diversity among this year’s Academy Award nominees, the prospect of a critically acclaimed film with a black director and cast instantly sparked speculation about its chances at the 2017 Oscars. The film is due for release in the US on 6 October, and in the UK in January 2017.

The 1831 rebellion was ultimately unsuccessful and Turner was hanged, but historians suggest the episode was a crucial step along the path to abolition. The title The Birth of a Nation is a pointed reference to the controversial 1915 DW Griffith film of the same name, which is often described as the first ever blockbuster and infamously portrayed the Ku Klux Klan as heroes.

Mr Parker, who spent seven years trying to get the movie made, reportedly invested some $100,000 of his own money in the $10m production, turning down multiple acting jobs to pursue his passion project.

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