At a Sunday event at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), Nate Parker finally confronted the press for the first time since his 1999 sexual assault case resurfaced.
At TIFF to promote his movie The Birth of a Nation, a film about moral accountability and injustice in which Parker stars and directed, the actor deflected and evaded responsibility in addressing his past and his involvement in the alleged assault.
When asked by a New York Times reporter why hadn’t apologized to the alleged victim, who took her own life in 2012, Parker responded with this:
“I’ve addressed this a few times, and I’m sure I’ll address it in different forums. But this is a forum for the film [and] for the other people that are sitting on this stage. It’s not mine. I don’t own it. It does not belong to me. So I definitely don’t want to hijack this with my personal life.”
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In 1999 Parker was accused of sexually assaulting a woman at Penn State University with his Birth of a Nation collaborator Jean Celestin, who has a story credit in the film. Parker was acquitted in 2001; Celestin was convicted but the verdict was later overturned.
Although Parker was acquitted, his involvement in the incident has divided potential audiences. While Parker claims audiences should separate the art from the artist, and has even attempted to diminish his own personal involvement in the film, The Birth of a Nation controversy does put an important question at play as discussed by NPR:
“Should we separate a work of art from the artist?”
Let us know in the comments below.