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‘Birth of a Nation’ First Trailer Offers Powerful Look at Slavery (Video)

Sundance sensation set to debut in theaters Oct. 7

The first teaser for Nate Parker’s slave revolt drama “The Birth of a Nation” debuted on Friday.

The film, which won the Audience Award for a U.S. Drama and the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, stars Parker as Nat Turner, who led a 48-hour slave rebellion against his white masters. Armie Hammer and Aja Naomi King co-star alongside Jackie Earle Haley and Jayson Warner Smith. Parker also produced, wrote and directed.

The trailer is set to the song Andra Day’s “Rise Up” and reportedly had everyone at CinemaCon in tears when it debuted earlier this week. The trailer also shows the most talked about scene at Sundance — a little while girl leading a little black girl around the yard by a leash made of rope.

Fox Searchlight closed a record-breaking deal to acquire worldwide rights to Nate Parker’s film for $17.5 million, as TheWrap reported in January.

The sum is believed to be the most paid for any film in Sundance history, and reflects a bidding war driven by deep-pocketed streaming giants like Netflix and Amazon.

“The Birth of a Nation” received multiple standing ovations during its debut at Sundance, with TheWrap’s Jeff Sneider writing that the film represents the “birth of a major new talent.”

The film comes along as Hollywood finds itself embroiled in questions of diversity and inclusion, as no actors of color received an Academy Award nomination for the second year in a row.

Parker told TheWrap’s Sharon Waxman that he was so intrigued with the story of Nat Turner because he represented a type of hero that Parker thinks we no longer see in the world today.

“Usually, we learn about slavery through the context of endurance or resilience but never though resistance or determination,” Parker said at TheWrap’s interview studio at Sundance. “I was like, this guy is a hero. So often in our community, we don’t really have heroes unless they play basketball or play football. To have someone that had integrity, that fought for righteousness, that led something that he thought would create systemic change — the system was corrupt, the system was evil — I thought that was intriguing.”

“Birth of Nation” will debut in theaters for an awards-qualifying run on Oct. 7.

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