The American Film Institute in Los Angeles has canceled the Nate Parker-directed Birth Of A Nation’s because of rape allegation he faced while at Pennsylvania State University in the late 90s.
Parker, who was a wrestler at Penn State, and his roommate Jean Celestin were charged with raping a 20-year-old female student who was severely intoxicated in their apartment. Parker was acquitted of the charges.
Celestin was convicted before the decision was overturned.
The woman in question, it has since been revealed, committed suicide in 2012, creating a PR nightmare for the film company that bought the film for a record amount after it won awards at the Sundance Film Festival in January.
Some people believe that Parker is deserving of such intense scrutiny as his film’s debut is fast approaching. Others look askance that this comes out now. Parker, they say, has been acting for over 10 years but only now does the rape allegations come out now that he is making a film about the most famous black slave rebel in history.
“Seventeen years ago, I experienced a very painful moment in my life,” Parker told Variety. “It resulted in it being litigated. I was cleared of it. That’s that. Seventeen years later, I’m a filmmaker. I have a family. I have five beautiful daughters. I have a lovely wife. I get it. The reality is” — he took a long silence — “I can’t relive 17 years ago. All I can do is be the best man I can be now.”
However, the Hollywood Reporter states that the screening of “The Birth of a Nation” and a Q&A with writer-director-star Nate Parker that was supposed to take place at the American Film Institute’s Conservatory on Friday has been postponed because of concerns that have been raised surrounding the circumstances of the PSU episode.
Birth of a Nation is about the legendary Nat Turner and his famous slave uprising. The now aborted screening is usually reserved for a highly-anticipated release and is accompanied by a guest who worked on the film.
The school stated it will instead facilitate a discussion about issues raised by the film and what took place in Pennsylvania.