UPDATE: Blair Underwood’s publicist has informed us that he is actually NOT attached to the project.
This has apparently been in the works for some time, but I only just learned about it over the weekend, so I assume a lot of you folk likely aren’t aware of it as well.
We already know of Nate Parker’s directorial debut (which he also stars in), “The Birth of a Nation,” which will retell the story of the Nat Turner led slave uprising in 1831. That film is currently in post-production, and will likely debut on the film festival circuit some time next year.
But there’s a second Nat Turner film in development – this one to be directed by Bill Duke. I learned about it as I was reading a recap on the Los Angeles Sentinel’s website, of an October 24, 2015 event (the “X-Perience MoreMentum Seminar Series”), which featured Bill Duke in conversation. During the chat, Duke revealed that he was currently prepping to go into production on his upcoming film, “Nat Turner: Story of a Prophet,” which will also chronicle Turner’s historic fight for freedom and equality in the face of oppression.
The film will be based on a book of the same name by author Kenya Cagle who is also adapting for the screen, along with writer Robin Denise Williams.
Blair Underwood is attached to star as Nat Turner, with Keith David, Mike Epps, Kym Whitley, Todd Bridges, LisaRaye McCoy, Eric Roberts and a host of others rounding out the key cast.
A website has been set up for the project, which is said to have the blessings of Turner’s descendants, and can be found here: http://www.natturnerproject.com/.
That’s about all there is that’s public about the project. Like I said, it’s actually been in development for a little while, and appears to be closer to going into production, based on what Bill Duke said just less than 2 weeks ago. Budget is listed at $5 million, but that might be an old estimate.
So now we wait to learn more…
Nate Parker’s film wrapped principal photography during the summer, so it’s very like still in post-production right now; although I won’t at all be surprised if it debuts at the Sundance Film Festival in January, if only because the project was the recipient of a fellowship with the Sundance Institute Feature Film Program last year, so it’s gone through that system, and films that do, typically end up premiering at the Institute’s festival – aka Sundance. It also has the backing of production companies Phantom Four, Mandalay Pictures, Tiny Giant Prods., Follow Through Prods., Infinity Entertainment and Creative Wealth Media Finance, with Parker also producing via his Bron Entertainment shingle, along with Aaron L. Gilbert, Kevin Turen, Jason Michael Berman and Preston Holmes.
David Goyer is also among the film’s executive producers.
Joining Parker in front of the camera are Aja Naomi King (“How to Get Away With Murder”), Aunjanue Ellis, Colman Domingo, Dwight Henry, Roger Guenveur Smith, Gabrielle Union and Arnie Hammer.