Nate Parker receives Sundance Institute Vanguard Award for “The Birth of a Nation”

August 11, 2016

Nate Parker (Sci 2001) receives the Sundance Institute Vanguard Award for writing, directing and starring in “The Birth of a Nation.” The film, which received critical acclaim at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, centers on Nat Turner, a Virginia slave who used his fierce intellect, profound faith, and deep belief in his ability to change things to become a preacher and eventually lead a 48-hour rebellion in 1831—30 years before the American Civil War. Fox Searchlight acquired “The Birth of a Nation” for a festival-record $17.5M, The film also stars Jackie Earle Haley, Gabrielle Union, Penelope Ann Miller, Aunjanue Ellis, Mark Boone Junior and Aja Naomi King. “The Birth of a Nation” opened nationwide on October 7, 2016. Parker had previously starred in movies such as “Beyond the Lights,” “Red Tails,” “The Secret Life of Bees,” “The Great Debaters,” “Arbitrage,” “Non-Stop ,” “Felon” and “Pride.” During his time at Penn State, Parker was a nationally ranked wrestler for two seasons. Following a 2001 trial and acquittal for sexual assault, he transferred to the University of Oklahoma.