In a 10.5 post, Vulture‘s Kyle Buchanan has offered five reasons why Nate Parker‘s The Birth of a Nation was embraced with such excitement and became such a huge Sundance sensation.
One, “the premiere was highly emotional.” Two, “#OscarsSoWhite was the talk of the town.” (Minutes after the big Eccles screening I declared on Twitter that the emotional response was largely because of #OscarsSoWhite pushback — “We ain’t ‘white’, we get it, we’re the first to feel the love!”) Three, “black films are acquired, not developed” because distributors are usually afraid to stick their necks out by financing films about racial subjects. Four, “we’re in a new era of bidding wars” due to Amazon and Netflix. And five, “no one wanted to rain on Parker’s parade.”
Buchanan’s explanation of the last point is interesting: “I talked to plenty of people at Sundance who felt the film was just okay or even mediocre,” he writes. “but they weren’t eager to share their reactions at the time, lest they step on Parker’s moment.” Except for Hollywood Elsewhere, that is. “Don’t kid yourself about how good and satisfying this film is,” I wrote two or three hours after the Eccles debut. “It’s mostly a mediocre exercise in deification and sanctimony.”
Buchanan: “[Not wanting to step on Parker is] part of the reason that the rape accusation took so long to resurface, despite its constant presence on Parker’s Wikipedia page. Though I heard media members murmuring about the scandal even in Park City, no one wanted to be perceived as the white journalist who took down Nate Parker.” That was me also. I knew that someone sooner or later would get into the Penn State thing, but I felt it would be wrong to go after Parker for what I felt was an unrelated episode (except for the fact that he uses a rape of Nat Turner‘s fictitious wife as a trigger for the 1831 slave revolt).