Nate Parker screened his film The Birth of A Nation at Sundance, and immediately following a bidding war ensued. The film, about Nat Turner, who led a slave rebellion in Virginia in 1831, according to Parker, is an unsanitized telling of the revolt in which at least 55 whites were killed. Parker wrote, directed, produced and starred in the film which eventually sold for a record $17.5 million to Fox Searchlight – the highest price ever paid for a film at Sundance.
Parker, 36, took a two year sabbatical from acting to work on the passion project, putting in $100,000 of his own money. Multiple investors, including former NBA player Michael Finley and San Antonio Spurs’ Tony Parker pulled together the $10 million budget. There were reportedly offers as high as $20 million from Netflix, who’s plan for distribution was (obviously) streaming. Parker and partners went with the lesser dollar amount offer from Fox Searchlight, partially in favor of offering viewers a theatre experience.