As “The Birth of a Nation” writer, director and star Nate Parker continues to dominate the headlines on Wednesday for a 1999 sexual assault case, altered versions of his upcoming movie’s poster have popped up in Los Angeles.
The posters have been reimagined in PhotoShop by street artist Sabo and feature Parker’s face emblazoned with the word: “Rapist?”
“I wouldn’t normally do something like this but [Parker] pissed me off right off the bat with the trailer and the poster,” Sabo told TheWrap on Wednesday, explaining his motivation to create and post the provocative poster.
The artist said he was provoked by news reports that Parker had been arrested, and later acquitted of sexual assault charges stemming from a 1998 incident while he was a student at Penn State.
Multiple copies of Sabo’s altered version have been plastered all over West L.A., including right outside of the 20th Century Fox studio. Fox Searchlight, which is a part of Fox, is releasing Parker’s well-received indie drama on Oct. 7.
The poster has very clearly been changed from an original version in which Parker appears as the film’s lead character, real-life slave revolt leader Nat Turner, with a noose around his neck made of the American flag.
“I find it very offensive someone is using the flag as a noose,” said Sabo, a Texas-born artist who has been associated with right-leaning politics. He recently produced artwork to promote Dinesh D’Souza‘s anti-Clinton documentary “Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party.”
Sabo, who described himself as “brown,” also expressed his concern that Barack Obama has been fanning the flames of racial discord. “Obama wants to pick up the mantle [of racial division] before he gets out of office,” he told TheWrap, adding that he thinks “black people should stop voting for Democrats.”
Parker wrote, directed, and produced and starred in the acclaimed film, which the coveted Grand Jury Prize at Sundance and was bought by Fox Searchlight in a historic bidding war this year. As an early awards favorite, 36-year-old Parker has been the subject of recent profiles in which the old rape case was brought up.
Sundance 2016: 13 Breakout Stars to Watch, From Parker Sawyers to Lily-Rose Depp (Photos)
Tika Sumpter and Parker Sawyers, "Southside With You" - Richard Tanne's drama chronicles the epic first date of Barack Obama and Michelle Robinson across Chicago's South Side in the summer of 1989. This could be Sumpter's breakout feature role, and while Sawyers doesn't have a U.S. agent heading into Sundance, expect that to change quickly.
Harley Quinn Smith and Lily-Rose Depp, "Yoga Hosers" - The Colleens from Kevin Smith's "Tusk" are back in the director's follow-up, which finds the two teenage yoga enthusiasts teaming up with a legendary man-hunter to battle an ancient evil presence that threatens their party plans. The daughters of Smith and co-star Johnny Depp stole a couple scenes in "Tusk," but this is their first real opportunity to prove they can hold the screen like their fathers. Depp is already on Hollywood's radar, co-starring opposite Natalie Portman in "Planetarium" and testing for the lead in Paramount's "Looking for Alaska."
Michael Barbieri and Theo Taplitz, "Little Men" - Director Ira Sachs returns to Sundance with this film that rests on the slender shoulders of its teenage stars. The duo play best friends whose bond is tested by their parents' battle over a dress shop lease. Taplitz has done plenty of theater and creates short films in his spare time, while Barbieri is a student at the Lee Strasberg Theater and Film Institute in New York. While "Little Men" is his feature film debut, he also appears in Matt Kazman's short film "Killer," which premieres at Sundance.
Lucas Hedges, "Manchester By the Sea" - You probably remember Lucas Hedges as the lead bully in Wes Anderson's "Moonrise Kingdom." The son of director Peter Hedges has since appeared in Jason Reitman's "Labor Day," Terry Gilliam's "The Zero Theorem" and "Kill the Messenger," in which he played Jeremy Renner's son. Here, he plays a teen who falls into the care of his uncle (Casey Affleck) when his father dies. Director Kenneth Lonergan has gotten strong performances out of his young leads in "You Can Count on Me" and "Margaret," and Hedges could be his secret weapon in this film.
Morgan Saylor, "White Girl" - Best known as Dana Brody on "Homeland," Saylor takes center stage in "White Girl," as a college student who goes to extremes to get her drug dealer boyfriend out of jail. It's a potentially explosive role for Saylor, so keep an eye on the rising young actress.
Jacob Latimore, "Sleight" - After holding his own opposite veteran co-stars like Forest Whitaker and Angela Bassett in "Black Nativity," Latimore graduated to supporting roles in box office hits such as "Ride Along" and "The Maze Runner." Now he's in the Sundance spotlight with "Sleight," playing a young street magician who turns to dealing drugs when he's left to care for his little sister following their mother's death. When his sister gets kidnapped, he must rely on his smarts and sleight of hand to save her. If that doesn't sound like a star-making opportunity, what does?
Emma Greenwell, "Love and Friendship" - The "Shameless" star is about to break out in a big way between her supporting role in this Whit Stillman movie and her upcoming turn in "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies." She plays Lady Catherine opposite Kate Beckinsale and Chloe Sevigny in this comic riff on an incomplete Jane Austen novella. Greenwell also co-stars in the upcoming Hulu series "The Path" with Aaron Paul and Michelle Monaghan.
Shashank Arora and the cast of "Brahman Naman" - Controversial Indian filmmaker Q has assembled an intriguing cast for his raunchy sex comedy, which showcases Arora's knack for comedic timing. Arora (in yellow shirt) plays a nerdy, hormone-fueled teen who competes for the National Quiz Championships in 1980s India while trying to lose his virginity along the way.
Lily Gladstone, "Certain Women" - This Native American newcomer is said to hold her own opposite her veteran co-star Kristen Stewart as a reclusive young ranch hand in the throes of her first existential crisis who meets Beth (Stewart), a recent law school grad who teaches an adult education class. Gladstone caught the acting bug after watching a "Star Wars" spinoff and quickly became involved in local theater in Montana, where she grew up on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. She starred opposite Stewart's "Twilight" co-star Chaske Spencer in "Winter in the Blood" and had a small role in the Benicio del Toro movie "Jimmy P."
Lilith Stangenberg, "Wild" - This up-and-coming German actress plays an young anarchist who chooses a life without hypocrisy or an obligatory safety net. Stangenberg is an unknown entity in the U.S., but seeing as she shares the screen with a wolf, she's guaranteed to have tongues wagging in Park City.
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The festival has made stars out of Ellen Page (”Juno“) and Michael B. Jordan (”Fruitvale Station“). Who will it be this year?