Film, TV & Stage

Nate Parker’s self-funded film makes Sundance history after Fox buys rights for $17.5m



NATE PARKER has made sure his transition from film star to director is a monumental one.

That’s because the 36-year-old film-maker has sold his movie for a record-breaking $17.5 million at the Sundance Festival.

The Birth of a Nation is period drama based on the radicalisation of Nat Turner, an African-American slave who led a slave rebellion in Virginia on August 21, 1831.

Since its premiere on Monday (Jan 25), where it got prolonged standing ovations, both before and after it screened, The Birth of a Nation has become the most expensive paid for production in the history of the Sundance festival after Fox Searchlight acquired the distribution rights to the film.

Making his debut as a director, Nate not only wrote the script, but also stars in the movie and produced it for two years, using £100,000 of his own money.

Popularly known as Sundance, the independent film Festival showcases brand new movies from usually unknown talent, in a bit to offer opportunities to film-makers outside of Hollywood.

And following the success of Birth of a Nation at the annual event, Hollywood studios were lining up to buy the rights to the movie.

Bidding started at $12 million, with high profile suitors from major studios battling for the slavery drama.

In the end Fox Searchlight, the same studio that produced 12 Years a Slave, won the bid sealing a $17.5 million deal.

Speaking about the deal, Nate said: “It was intense deliberation, and when it was all said and done and when the dust settled we were so happy to be able to choose Fox Searchlight.”

Birth of a Nation is due to hit cinemas late 2016.

“I wouldn’t say anyone begged,” he added. “The reality is that these distributors are all at the highest level and they all can achieve what you need.”

WORDS: Hazelann Williams


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