The writer, producer, and director of the acclaimed film “Birth of A Nation,” Nate Parker, was in Norfolk at the Attucks Theatre last Friday night. Parker, a Norfolk native son, was scouting out a venue for the formal domestic premiere of his movie and he is working to put his hometown on the list of possible places. The film depicts the life of Nat Turner who led a rebellion in Southhampton County in 1831. Parker played Turner in the movie.
He was born in Norfolk and lived in the Tidewater Park Public Housing community. During his stay, he toured Chrysler Hall, the Slover Library and the Historic Attucks Theater as possible sites for the film’s premiere in September or October. There may also be high profile screenings in L.A. and other locales. Parker announced his intentions at a reception held at the Attucks Theater Saturday evening, hosted by Norfolk Councilman Paul Riddick and organized by activist Michael Muhammad who escorted Parker on his scouting exercise.
Parker also was in town for the graduation of his daughter from high school. School Board Chair Rodney Jordan and NSU History Professors Drs. William and Cassandra Newby-Alexander and Portsmouth Mayor Kenneth Wright were among the local luminaries attending the gathering.
The movie premiered in competition at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival on January 25, 2016. Fox Searchlight Pictures bought worldwide rights to the film in a $17.5 million deal, the largest deal at the film festival to date. At the end of the festival, it won the Audience Award and Grand Jury Prize in the U.S. Dramatic Competition.