The Venice Film Festival has announced Nate Parker’s politically-charged drama “American Skin” will world premiere in its Sconfini section. The announcement brings Parker prominently back into spotlight for the first time since the controversy surrounding his directorial debut, “The Birth of a Nation.” “American Skin” stars Parker as a Marine veteran whose son is killed by a policeman during a routine check. When the policeman is declared innocent, the veteran takes the entire police station hostage and puts on a trial in which the jury is made up of inmates and everyday people.
The world premiere of “American Skin” will be attended by recent Oscar winner Spike Lee. The “BlacKkKlansman” director will sit down with Parker following the screening for a Q&A discussion. Lee said in a statement, “My brother, Nate Parker, has concocted a brave tour de force. I haven’t been affected by a film like this on so many levels in a long, long time. It is my hope and prayer that the movie audience will understand this battle between love and hate, which has divided our world. Bravo Nate, Bravo.”
Parker became the sensation of the 2016 Sundance Film Festival with his fact-based slavery drama “The Birth of a Nation,” which won the Audience Award and the Grand Jury Prize in the U.S. Dramatic Competition. Fox Searchlight picked up the film in a giant $17.5 million deal, still the biggest Sundance deal in history.
Nearly a month before the movie’s release, a 1999 rape trial involving Parker and co-writer Jean McGianni Celestin resurfaced and derailed the film. Parker was acquitted of the rape at the time, but his initial response to the controversy rubbed many the wrong way, and he consistently maintained his innocence and disinterest in apologizing. In 2016, Parker and Celestin’s alleged victim’s sister wrote a piece for Variety that publicly shared that the alleged victim had died by suicide in 2012.
“Birth” opened October 7, 2016 and earned only $16.8 million at the box office, a big loss for Searchlight.
“American Skin” was shot in Los Angeles and co-stars Omari Hardwick (“Power”), Theo Rossi (“Sons of Anarchy”), and Beau Knapp (“Southpaw”). Producers include Mark Burg, Tarak Ben Ammar, and Lukas Behnken.
The film joins such titles as “Ad Astra” and “Joker” has being included in the official Venice lineup. Those movies will debut in competition. The 2019 Venice Film Festival takes place August 28 – September 7.