Nate Parker to Receive Sundance Institute's Vanguard Award

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Nate Parker

The 'Birth of a Nation' writer-director-producer-star will be honored at Night Before Next on Aug. 11.

Seven months after taking Sundance 2016 by storm, Nate Parker will receive the Sundance Institute's Vanguard Award.

The award will be presented to the writer-producer-director-star of The Birth of a Nation at Night Before Next, a summer celebration benefiting the Institute and its artists held at the Theatre at Ace Hotel Downtown Los Angeles on Aug. 11.

Parker’s directorial debut, The Birth of a Nation, premiered in January at the Sundance Film Festival, where it won both the audience award and grand jury prize. The slave rebellion drama also sparked a bidding war that ended with Fox Searchlight paying $17.5 million, the most ever for a Sundance film.

“Night Before Next will bring our community together to celebrate and support independent artists who create bold, original work," Sundance Institute executive director Keri Putnam said Tuesday in a statement. "In this spirit, we are excited to honor Nate Parker as he prepares to release the extraordinary film The Birth of a Nation, which we supported during development and premiered at our Festival.”

The evening also will include an outdoor party with a live musical performance by White Sea, fronted by Morgan Kibby, formerly of M83.

Parker also wrote and produced Birth of a Nation. Set in the South during the antebellum era, the pic centers on Nat Turner (Parker), a literate slave and preacher whose financially strained owner, Samuel Turner (Armie Hammer), accepts an offer to use Nat’s preaching to subdue unruly slaves. As he witnesses countless atrocities — against himself and his fellow slaves — Nat orchestrates an uprising in the hopes of leading his people to freedom. Fox Searchlight will open the film on Oct. 7.

Birth of a Nation was supported by the Sundance Institute Feature Film Program from development to postproduction, through both ongoing mentorship and granting programs.

Parker will be the fifth recipient of the Vanguard Award, joining past honorees Benh Zeitlin (Beasts of the Southern Wild), Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale Station), Damien Chazelle (Whiplash) and Marielle Heller (The Diary of a Teenage Girl).

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