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Vertical Entertainment has acquired North American rights to Nate Parker’s police brutality drama “American Skin,” which world premiered at the Venice Film Festival in 2019 and won the Sconfini section’s best film award.

Vertical is planning a theatrical and digital release for January 2021, which would make the movie eligible for the Oscars. Parker directed, wrote and stars in the film as an Iraq War vet who seeks justice after his only son is killed by a white police officer. Omari Hardwick, Theo Rossi and Beau Knapp complete the cast.

The film was independently financed by Mark Burg and Tarak Ben Ammar’s Eagle Pictures, and is being presented by Spike Lee.

“American Skin” earned a warm critical response and standing ovation at Venice, but its inclusion in the festival’s lineup stirred controversy. Parker was accused and acquitted of raping a woman in 2001. The scandal resurfaced four years ago after his feature debut, “The Birth of a Nation,” made a splash at Sundance and was tipped as an Oscar frontrunner.

Peter Jarowey and Josh Spector negotiated the deal for Vertical Entertainment with Burg, Ammar and Emily Downs on behalf of the filmmakers.

Burg and Ammar produced “American Skin” with Lukas Behnken. Zak Tanjeloff was executive producer on the film, which was co-produced by R.D. Delgado. The key crew includes cinematographer Kay Madsen, editors Billy Weber and Matthew Feinman, and music composer Henry Jackman.

Ammar said he was compelled to board the project after he read the script because he had the intuition that it “would spark a discussion about the state of racism not only in the U.S., but in the whole world.”

“Just a few months after its premiere at the Venice Film Festival, the Black Lives Matter movement occurred. As a society, we need to acknowledge the truth about systemic racism and tackle the fear that drives it,” Ammar said.