Following the revelation that Nate Parker’s rape accuser committed suicide in 2012, the Toronto International Film Festival is standing by their decision to screen his film “Birth of a Nation.”
“TIFF is proud to help bring Birth of a Nation and the important story it tells to audiences. We will present the film as planned,” festival reps told The Hollywood Reporter on Wednesday.
A woman involved in a college sexual assault case dating back to 1999, which implicated Parker and his “Birth of a Nation” co-writer jean Celestin, overdosed on sleeping pills in 2012, it was revealed on Tuesday.
While Parker was acquitted of all charges, his co-writer (and former roommate) was sentenced to six months in prison. When Celestin appealed the case, his accuser refused to testify once more and the case was subsequently thrown out.
“Birth of a Nation” is now surrounded by controversy after Parker addressed the death of the woman in a Facebook post. “I myself just learned that the young woman ended her own life several years ago and I am filled with profound sorrow. I can’t tell you how hard it is to hear this news,” he wrote.
The upcoming TIFF screening will mark the film’s international premiere, and as THR notes, will “launch the movie’s Oscar campaign.”
Meanwhile, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences president Cheryl Boone Isaacs is speaking out about the controversy, which she says is overshadowing what is apparently a provocative film that moviegoers should see while admitting she hasn’t yet seen it herself.
“I know just by the conversation that has gone on at Sundance that it’s clearly a movie that filmgoers should go and see,” Isaacs told TMZ.
Asked about Parker’s “presumed guilt,” Isaacs stated: “That’s one issue, that’s his personal issue. And then there’s the issue of the movie. The important thing is for people to see it and enjoy the film, be impressed by the film. And I think that is what is very important. People need to see this movie.”