When The Birth of a Nation premiered at Sundance, it was greeted with rapturous praise and a bidding war that ultimately resulted in a $17.5 million sale to Fox Searchlight. In the midst of #OscarsSoWhite, a film written, directed and starring a promising black filmmaker, about the Nat Turner slave rebellion, seemed to have arrived at the perfect time and felt like a sure Oscar contender. But over the summer, a dark chapter of director Nate Parker's past came back under a spotlight. Parker was accused of raping a fellow student while attending Penn State, and while he was acquitted of all charges, that personal history makes some people uneasy about seeing the film. In recent interviews, Parker appears remorseless, blames the media, and doesn't seem to be doing himself any favors. The film opens at 2,100 theaters this weekend, and because it comes out in so many places at once, as opposed to a slow rollout, the overall success of the film and its Oscar chances are heavily riding on opening weekend.
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