President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Cheryl Boone Isaacs, told TMZ that one should watch rape-accused director Nate Parker’s film irrespective of his past. In light of the recent backlash Parker’s film has been witnessing owing to his past – with the American Film Institute canceling a screening of his film – Isaacs said that the film needs to be seen because of the subject he delves into.
“With the issue of the movie, the important thing is for people to see it and enjoy the film, be impressed by the film. I think that is what is very important. People need to see this movie,” she said. The film, titled The Birth of A Nation, tells the story of the 1831 slave rebellion led by Nat Turner, portraying the horrors of slavery, and Turner’s personal story. Isaacs told TMZ that people should judge the film on the basis of its own merit and not based on Parker’s rape allegations, which, to her, is “one issue, that’s his personal issue.”
Nate Parker, an actor and director, known for his films The Great Debaters and The Secret Life of Bees, was charged with rape while he was a student at Penn State University in 1999. He and his roommate were accused of raping a fellow Penn State student while she was in an inebriated state. He was acquitted of the charges in 2001, but the controversy surfaced again recently when reports came out that the victim had committed suicide at the age of 30 in 2012.
According to a video from a recent event, posted on social media, Parker apologised to women over his past behaviour and called his younger self a ‘dog’. “The way I treated women, objectified women…” he said, “my manhood was defined by how many women I could be with. I was a dog. I was wrong. I hurt a lot of women. And that was normal for me, in respect to how I treated them emotionally. I was introduced to sex in a certain way. That type of male culture, that type of hyper-masculinity where your manhood is determined by how many women you get to say ‘yes,’ is destructive,” he added.
He had even posted a long message on Facebook, expressing his guilt and opening up about his past. “I myself just learned that the young woman ended her own life several years ago and I am filled with profound sorrow…I can’t tell you how hard it is to hear this news. I can’t help but think of all the implications this has for her family,” he wrote. “I have changed so much since nineteen. I’ve grown and matured in so many ways and still have more learning and growth to do. I have tried to conduct myself in a way that honors my entire community – and will continue to do this to the best of my ability,” he added.
Meanwhile, another member of the Academy board, Marcia Nasatir, told the Hollywood Reporter that she finds it ‘really hard to separate the man from the film when he wrote, directed and starred in it‘, commenting that she wouldn’t go for the film because of Parker’s unsettling past. “Do I want to see a movie from someone who has committed an assault against a woman and who I do not think recognizes his guilt? Right now, based on what I’ve read, I would not go to the movie,” she said.
Photo Credits: The Hollywood Reporter