Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences President Cheryl Boone Isaacs said that the personal history of Nate Parker should not dissuade people from seeing the first-time director’s acclaimed new drama “The Birth of a Nation.”
“The important thing is for people to see it and enjoy the film, be impressed by the film,” she told TMZ on Thursday. “People need to see this movie… Just by the conversation that has gone on at Sundance, it’s clearly a movie that filmgoers should go and see.”
On Tuesday, the American Film Institute’s Conservatory canceled a screening of the movie and a Q&A with Parker.
The decision was reportedly in response to concerns over the subject of the film, which tells the story of Nat Turner, who led a slave rebellion in Southampton County, Virginia, in 1831.
It also comes just after the resurfacing of a 1999 incident in which a Penn State student accused Parker and “The Birth of a Nation” co-writer Jean McGianni Celestin of sexual assault.
Parker was acquitted of criminal charges in 2001, while Celestin’s conviction was overturned on appeal and he was not re-tried. But that hasn’t quelled the media interest in the case — especially in light of news that the accuser died in 2012 of an apparent suicide.
When asked whether “The Birth of a Nation” could be impacted in a negative way by the rape accusation, Isaacs said, “People need to see the movie and judge the movie.”
Watch her statement above.