Lunchtime hikers at Runyon Canyon and executives in nearby Burbank, California, were greeted with a message in the sky above the Los Angeles area on Wednesday: “Nat Turner Lives.”
It’s likely no coincidence that Fox Searchlight’s controversial awards hopeful “The Birth of a Nation” opens in limited release on Friday — and the message might serve to underscore the film’s true purpose.
A 17-year-old rape case in which director, writer, producer and star Nate Parker was acquitted has largely stolen the spotlight from the slave-rebellion film — which tells of Nat Turner’s pre-Civil War uprising and brought this year’s Sundance Film Festival to its feet before it was sold to Searchlight for a historic $17.5 million.
Representatives for the studio and Parker did not immediately return TheWrap’s request for comment on their potential involvement in the skywriting. “Nat Turner Lives” has appeared on one-sheet posters for the film, spray painted over images of the 1915 D.W. Griffith film that was also called “The Birth of a Nation” and is known for its blatant racism.
Throughout promotion of the movie, Parker said he refused to “hijack” the attention that it deserved with details of his own personal life. His cast, such as “Birth” co-star Penelope Ann Miller, agreed with the sentiment.
“This is the Nat Turner story not the Nate Parker story,” the actress said defiantly at the Toronto International Film Festival in September.
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