The Birth Of A Nation director due at premiere amid rape acquittal controversy


Controversial slave revolt drama The Birth Of A Nation will premiere at the BFI London Film Festival on Tuesday.

The screening comes after recent focus on director Nate Parker's acquittal at a rape trial in 2001.

Nate Parker, the director, screenwriter and star of
(Chris Pizzello/AP)

Parker, who also stars in the film as enslaved baptist preacher Nat Turner, will walk the red carpet in London alongside cast members Gabrielle Union, Aja Naomi King and Armie Hammer.

The film, about the most successful slave rebellion in American history, was a sensation in January at the Sundance Film Festival, where it sold to Fox Searchlight for a reported $17.5 million (£14 million) - the highest price paid for a film at the festival.

However, it has since faltered at the US box office, where it opened in sixth place at the weekend amid renewed scrutiny of the allegations against Parker, who was accused of rape in 1999 while a student at Penn State University.

Nate Parker, the director, star and producer of
Parker at Sundance (Chris Pizzello/AP)

It later emerged the student who made the accusation killed herself in 2012.

In Los Angeles, a group of anti-rape activists held a candlelight vigil on the eve of the release of the film in the US on Friday.

The organisation F**k Rape Culture held a silent sit-in outside the Arclight Hollywood cinema.

Parker maintained he had consensual sex with the woman and recently told US news show 60 Minutes that he was falsely accused. He added: "I don't feel guilty."

His college roommate Jean McGianni Celestin, who co-wrote the film, was also accused in the assault and successfully appealed against his conviction.

Union will join Parker at the premiere, despite writing in a Los Angeles Times essay in September that she felt "a state of stomach-churning confusion", and that she cannot take the allegations against him lightly.

Gabrielle Union, a cast member in
Gabrielle Union (Chris Pizzello/AP)

In the same essay, Union said she had been raped at gunpoint 24 years ago.

Birth Of A Nation will be released in UK cinemas on January 20 2017.