The teaser trailer for “The Birth of a Nation” made its debut online Friday, offering movie-goers a look at the smash hit of this year’s Sundance Film Festival.
Written and directed by Nate Parker, who also co-produced and plays the lead role, “The Birth of a Nation” tells the story of Nat Turner, a real-life African-American slave who led a violent rebellion in Virginia in 1831. After the film’s premiere in January, Fox Searchlight bought the rights for $17.5 million, a festival record.
The cast includes Gabrielle Union, Armie Hammer, Aja Naomi King and Jackie Earle Haley.
The trailer is split roughly into two parts, as the movie itself may be. In the first half, Turner (Parker) encourages his fellow slaves to endure their mistreatment and advises them to take comfort in hymns and scripture. In the second half, Turner foments rebellion, urging his followers to “sing a new song.”
The trailer’s theme, by the way, is Nina Simone’s version of “Strange Fruit,” the famous jazz-era lament about lynching in the South.
“The Birth of a Nation,” which shares its name with D.W. Griffith’s notoriously racist 1915 epic, may suffer from following closely on the heels of “12 Years a Slave” and “Selma,” two well-received but often grueling films about the violence and death intertwined in the African-American struggle for liberation and equality. Even so, it has already catapulted Parker (whose recent credits include “Red Tails” and “Beyond the Lights”) out of the Hollywood’s margins and into the spotlight.
“The Birth of a Nation” arrives in theaters Oct 7.