Nate Parker Breaks Silence at Venice Film Festival, Apologizes for "Tone Deaf" Response to College Rape Case
“The last three years have been such a learning experience for me. I feel like I have gained so much wisdom from people in my circle.”
Nate Parker resurfaced this weekend at The Venice Film Festival to commence an overdue apology tour.
According to Variety, the Birth of a Nation director was in attendance to promote his new film, American Skin, but wound up using the bulk of his time at the podium to discuss how he mishandled his “tone deaf” response to a college rape case that resurfaced in the build-up to Birth of a Nation’s theatrical release in 2016.
“Three years ago I was pretty tone deaf to the realities of certain situations that were happening in the climate. And I’ve had a lot of time to think about that, and I’ve learned a lot from it,” Parker told the Venice audience with Spike Lee in tow. He adds, “And being tone deaf, there were a lot of people that were hurt in my response, in the way I approached things. I apologize to those people.”
Parker’s Birth of a Nation landed a record $17.5 million distribution deal from Fox Searchlight after premiering at Sundance in 2015, but failed to make a dent at the box office. The controversy surrounding his initial response to being informed of the rape victim’s suicide in 2012 was generally viewed as dismissive and deflective at the time. When pressed about the charges in a 2016 interview, Parker told Variety, “Seventeen years ago, I experienced a very painful moment in my life. It resulted in it being litigated. I was cleared of it. That’s that.”
Though Parker was fully-acquitted of charges in 2001, his roommate, Jean Celestin, was found guilty in the case. Celestin was granted a new trial in 2005 after appealing the ruling, but never returned to court, as the victim opted not to testify again.