Sexual assault victims and their supporters will conduct a silent, candlelit sit-in on the opening night of “The Birth of a Nation.”
Activist group “F— Rape Culture” will gather Thursday at Hollywood’s Arclight Theaters a half-hour before the first screening of the Fox Searchlight release.
The event was described by the group as a response “to the Nate Parker controversy,” referring to a 17-year-old rape case at Penn State University that saw Parker acquitted on charges from a now-deceased accuser.
Representatives for Fox Searchlight did not immediately return TheWrap’s request for comment about the protest.
“Those in attendance of Thursday evenings’ showings of Nate Parker’s ‘Birth of a Nation’ are also invited to join this remembrance,” a statement from the group said. “FRC recognizes the need to hold space for those celebrating the advancement of people of color in Hollywood while continuing to fight for the victims of sexual assault and rape around the world.”
While “Birth” has been a hot news topic of late — including a bold and unflinching critique of its director from one of his stars, Gabrielle Union — there has never been a formal protest of the film, which saw its international premiere at last month’s Toronto International Film Festival.
In August, however, posters lined a portion of Los Angeles featuring Parker in character as slave rebel Nat Turner with an American flag noose around his neck and with the word “Rapist?” scrawled beneath.
The latest release from FRC was accompanied by a lengthy essay from Elyse Cizek, identified as a “Hollywood actress and model,” strongly condemning Parker, his past and even the implicit depictions of slave rape in “Birth.”
“If the intention … is to tell the untold story of a hero, let that hero be the women who live each day watching the men who have violated them win awards for glorifying the very acts of which they have sworn their ignorance,” Cizek said.
“We have never seen a historical film and been disappointed in lack of depicted rape, specifically when written by a man once accused of committing it.”
Indeed, two instances of rape in “Birth” are not depicted. The film begins its limited release Friday, Oct. 7.