Nate Parker's 'Birth of a Nation' Sets Press Conference at Toronto Film Festival

Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic
Nate Parker

The 'Birth of a Nation' star, who is at the center of a media firestorm because of his recent comments about a college rape accusation, and his cast will host a junket and press conference at the festival.

Fox Searchlight on Wednesday announced that there will be a Birth of a Nation press conference at the Toronto International Film Festival, and that director Nate Parker, who has found himself at the center of controversy because of his statements about a rape case he was involved in 17 years ago, will attend.

Parker, along with castmembers Armie Hammer, Aja Naomi King, Gabrielle Union and Penelope Anne Miller, will participate in a press video junket on Sept. 10 and a press conference on Sept. 11.

Traditionally, films that have already had world premieres elsewhere (as Birth did at Sundance in January) don't host press conferences at TIFF. It remains to be seen whether Parker will introduce the film at its screening or sit for a post-premiere Q&A as many filmmakers do at TIFF, and there's also the question of how much other press (including video lounges hosted by many outlets) he will do at the festival.

Parker, who directed, produced, wrote and starred in the Nat Turner slave drama, has been at the center of a media firestorm for the past two weeks after speaking in interviews about a rape accusation against him and his Birth of a Nation co-writer, Jean Celestin, while they were attending Penn State University. Parker was eventually acquitted of the charges, while Celestin was found guilty but the verdict was overturned on appeal.

It was revealed on Aug. 16 that the woman who accused Parker and Celestin of rape, a classmate of the two men at Penn State, committed suicide in 2012 at the age of 30.

After the details of the case were featured in the media, the American Film Institute Conservatory canceled a planned screening of Birth of a Nation that would have included a Q&A with Parker. He did make an appearance at a screening at the Merge Summit on Saturday.

“When I was first met with the news that this part of my past had come up, my knee-jerk reaction was selfish," said Parker during the Q&A, according to Ebony, who also spoke with the filmmaker after the panel. "I wasn’t thinking about even the potential hurt of others; I was thinking about myself.”

Birth of a Nation has been poised to be a breakout film of the season after Fox Searchlight acquired it for a record-breaking $17.5 million following its sensational Sundance premiere. Parker was scheduled to embark on a nationwide promotional tour to speak about the pic at several college campuses around the country. However, there's now been speculation that he will be pulled from many events, especially those involving college campuses. Fox Searchlight has stated that it plans to move forward with the tour and wide release.

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