Nate Parker’s film “The Birth of a Nation,” about Nat Turner’s slave rebellion, has received plenty of attention this year. Initially it was for its rapturous reception at the Sundance Film Festival, but months later it was for the resurgence of a 1999 rape accusation leveled against Parker and his co-writer Jean McGianni Celestin. While the film was modestly received upon its theatrical release, grossing $15 million against an $8.5 million budget, Parker’s past has arguably taken center stage in the discussion of “The Birth of a Nation.” In The Hollywood Reporter’s latest director’s roundtable, director Mel Gibson said that he didn’t believe it was fair that many people supposedly didn’t see Parker’s film because of the director’s past.
“He was cleared of all that stuff,” says Gibson. “And it was years ago. You have to follow the system there. I think he’s innocent of all that stuff. The fact that he has to live with that stigma, and that it affects the art he does, is unfair.”
Director Mira Nair (“Monsoon Wedding”) also responded to the topic, saying that while “art should be separated,” in this case “it was ironic that at the heart of ‘Birth of a Nation’ was the nature of what he was linked with. That was, I think, what created ambiguity and confusion in the eyes of the audience.”
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Gibson’s latest film, “Hacksaw Ridge,” will be released on Blu-ray and DVD early next year.