Fittingly for a historical drama that takes its title from a classic film whose links to racism severely complicate its legacy, “The Birth of a Nation” made history when it premiered at Sundance in January. Writer/director/star Nate Parker’s biopic centering around Nat Turner was bought by Fox Searchlight for a record-setting $17.5 million upon its premiere and is already being pushed as a serious awards contender. Months ahead of its theatrical release, the film is the subject of an aggressive marketing campaign to build and maintain buzz. A “living poster” is the newest look at the film.
Really a 30-second video, the image begins as a close-up on Parker before zooming out. Like a blood-stained image on parchment, it morphs into an American flag whose colors do indeed run. All the while, a monologue from Parker can be heard in the background: “The first shall be last. The last shall be first. Stand with us.”
Turner was a slave and preacher who led a rebellion in Virginia in 1811. Armie Hammer, Aja Naomi King, Jackie Earle Haley, Penelope Ann Miller, and Gabrielle Union co-star alongside Parker in the film, which won the Audience Award and Grand Jury Prize in the U.S. Dramatic Competition at Sundance. Fox Searchlight is releasing it on October 7.