×

‘Birth of a Nation:’ No Press Conference for Nate Parker in Toronto

UPDATED: Fox Searchlight has been trying to bring a business-as-usual approach to the promotion and release of “The Birth of a Nation” — the film that has been embroiled in controversy since the revelation that its director and star, Nate Parker, was accused of rape when he was a student at Penn State University.

That stance gets harder every day for the film’s distributor and auteur, as more voices condemn Parker and suggest they will boycott the film. Late Tuesday, word came that AFI was postponing a screening of the historic account of the slave rebellion led by Nat Turner in the 1830s. On Wednesday, the film took another hit when the Toronto International Film Festival’s schedule revealed that “The Birth of a Nation” will not be the subject of one of the nine official TIFF press conferences.

Fox Searchlight did not respond to a request for comment. But in an email to Deadline, Fox Searchlight marketing boss Michelle Hooper suggested that the lack of an official press conference was not a defeat for the film, which was the most acclaimed film coming out of this year’s Sundance Film Festival, where it drew a record bid of more than $17 million.

“Rarely do we do press conferences at TIFF for films that are not a world premiere,” Hooper told the entertainment website. “Last year, for example, we did not do a PC for Brooklyn because it was a Sundance premiere/acquisition; the only film we actually did one for last year was Demolition, and that’s because it was their Opening Night Film (and world premiere). Nate is attending and there are Q&As with cast and filmmakers after most screenings during the festival including its TIFF premiere.”

The night prior, AFI confirmed it had cancelled this Friday’s screening of the film, which was supposed to be followed by a Q & A with Parker. The school’s dean said the film school would hold a session on campus to air the many issues raised by the film and by the rape allegation against Parker and Celestin. He suggested that AFI might air the film at a later date, though he did not say when that might occur.

Parker and Celestin were both members of the Penn State wrestling team in 1999 when a fellow student, 18, said the two men both raped her when she was drunk and unconscious. Parker, who had a previous consensual encounter with the woman, was acquitted. But Celestin was convicted and only went free after he won an appeal and his fellow student decided she did not want to testify at another trial.

While some have argued that the lack of conviction should remove any cloud over the two men, others have said that the lack of a criminal conviction does not eliminate their culpability. Online forums have been filled with talk about a boycott of the film. No group has stepped forward to lead such an effort.

More Film

  • Stuber

    ‘Stuber’ Tops Studios’ TV Ad Spending

    In this week’s edition of the Variety Movie Commercial Tracker, powered by the always-on TV ad measurement and attribution company iSpot.tv, Twentieth Century Fox claims the top spot in spending with “Stuber.” Ads placed for the comedy had an estimated media value of $4.91 million through Sunday for 1,325 national ad airings on 42 networks. [...]

  • BTS - J-Hope, V, Jungkook, Jimin,

    BTS' 'Bring the Soul: The Movie' Gets Global Theatrical Release

    BTS will be back on the big screen this summer. The Korean pop group announced today that their latest feature film, “Bring the Soul: The Movie,” will have a global release on August 7. It arrives just six and a half months after the septet’s last film release, “Love Yourself in Seoul.” “Bring the Soul” [...]

  • Box Office: 'Yesterday' Movie Takes on

    Box Office: 'Annabelle Comes Home' and 'Yesterday' Take on 'Toy Story 4'

    The weekend box office has gone to the dolls. “Annabelle Comes Home,” a supernatural horror film about a possessed toy, is facing off against another band of plastic figurines: “Toy Story 4.” Disney-Pixar’s “Toy Story 4” is expected to dominate box office charts again over newcomers “Annabelle Comes Home” and “Yesterday,” a fantasy musical set [...]

  • 'The Current War' Trailer: Benedict Cumberbatch,

    Benedict Cumberbatch and Nicholas Hoult Feud in 'The Current War' Trailer (Watch)

    101 Studios has released an official new trailer for the Martin Scorcese-produced thriller, “The Current War,”  offering a glimpse into the dramatic 19th century battle over electricity that became known as the “war of the currents.” The film, which is a dramatization of real-life events, will follow the tumultuous journey of Thomas Edison, played by [...]

  • Ford v Ferrari

    Oscars: 31 Upcoming Films That Could Enter the Awards Race

    The year reaches the halfway mark on June 30, and traditionally films from the first six months have an uphill battle in the Oscar race. However, this year’s January-June crop might get a boost from the accelerated schedule: Nominations voting is a tight Jan. 2-Jan. 7, 2020. So if voters start their homework now, early [...]

  • Yesterday Movie Danny Boyle

    Danny Boyle on 'Yesterday,' Leaving 'Bond 25' and Why the Beatles Still Rock

    Danny Boyle would like to reintroduce you to the Beatles. The iconic foursome certainly needs no introduction, but in his movie “Yesterday,” which debuts June 28, the director envisions a word where nobody has heard of John, Paul, George and Ringo. That is, nobody besides Jack Malik. When the struggling songwriter, portrayed by newcomer Himesh [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content