Reservoir Dogs, American Psycho, Heathers, Memento, The Usual Suspects — word of mouth for all these films, some of the best of the past 30 years (and also Garden State), began in Utah at the Sundance Film Festival. The buzziest movie at this year’s festival was, without question, The Birth of a Nation, which Fox Searchlight bought for a near-record $17.5 million. Nate Parker’s period drama — which, yes, shares the name of D. W. Griffith’s 1915 silent epic that depicts the Ku Klux Klan as heroes — is about a young slave (played by Parker; he also wrote the screenplay) who “led a liberation movement in 1831 to free enslaved African-Americans in Virginia.” It’s an important movie… that’s also really good. That’s harder to pull off than you might think.
Here’s our own Mike Ryan with his review:
The Birth of a Nation seems destined to be a commercial success: It tells an important story, it will get a lot of attention, it has great performances, it has action, and it has a lot of religion, which is another key selling point for many viewers. And definitely not most importantly, but a nice side effect: maybe now D.W. Griffith’s film can fade into oblivion.
Anyone who wasn’t at the Sundance, where it received a “thunderous standing ovation” and won the Grand Jury Prize, will have to wait until October to see Birth, but you can check out the gorgeous-yet-violent trailer above. Nina Simone has never sounded more chilling.