AFI Cancels Birth of a Nation Screening in Wake of Nate Parker Controversy

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Following the Nate Parker controversy, an American Film Institute screening of “Birth of a Nation” has been canceled. The indefinite postponement of the event is a result of the fallout following new details that emerged in the past two weeks about director and star Parker’s 2001 rape trial, in which he was acquitted—his accuser committed suicide in 2012.

AFI dean Jan Schuette announced the screening’s cancellation in a note obtained by Deadline, writing:

I have been the recipient of many different passionate points of view about the screening, and I believe it is essential that we discuss these issues together — messenger and message, gender, race and more — before we see the film. Next week, we will be scheduling a special moderated discussion so we may explore these issues together as artists and audience.

Schuette also noted that “Fox has agreed to host a screening of the film for us later in the year.”

The AFI screening, which was supposed to be followed by a Q&A with Parker, is the first cancellation resulting from the troubling controversy, and time will tell how other such screenings of Birth of a Nation will be affected. As the Los Angeles Times’ Steven Zeitchik points out, “a Q&A at this stage of the news cycle is likely to be far more about the rape allegation as it is about the film itself.”

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