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A teary-eyed Nate Parker addressed his critics in a press conference for his latest film, American Skin, at the Deauville Film Festival in France, saying that he will continue to make films despite his decades-old rape charge leading to increased scrutiny in the U.S.
“I don’t care what they say about me, what they think about me, I don’t care. I’m gonna make art for our children’s children,” he said.
Parker became visibly choked up trying to answer a question regarding the largely negative reviews American Skin received from American critics, which varied from the European reception to his movie. The film world premiered in Venice last week, supported by Spike Lee.
“My only job as an artist is to reflect. Sometimes that reflection isn’t an image people want to see, but I’m an artist so I try to stay away,” he said.
“I’m not here to make a headline. I have five daughters and if I’m really blessed they will marry five great men, they’ll have children, inevitably they’ll have boys and they will look like me. If they are no more safe in their time than I am in this time I have failed as a human being, I have failed as a father and I’ve failed as an artist. I don’t want to get involved in anything that takes away from the urgency of that,” he said.
“I don’t know what I’ll do next but you can bet that whatever, that with everything in my soul I’m going to use my art to address things that need attention,” he said.
Parker also stars in American Skin as a U.S. military veteran whose son is killed by police following a traffic stop. After the officers are acquitted, Parker’s veteran takes matters into his own hands.
But Parker has been plagued by the details of a decades-old rape charge after the case resurfaced during press for his directorial debut, Birth of a Nation. Fox Searchlight abandoned an Oscar campaign for the film, and Parker faced intense criticism for his reaction.
Though he’s been largely silent for the last three years, Parker briefly addressed the situation in Venice noting: “The last three years have been such an learning experience for me.… The reality is that three years ago I was absolutely tone deaf to the realities of certain situations that were happening in the climate…. There were a lot of people that were hurt by the way I responded and how I approached things, and I apologize to those people. It has been a journey.”
Parker said he hopes American Skin can save lives. “If a film can do that, then we win. I’m not a surgeon, there are people every day that do more important thing than me. I’m just a filmmaker,” he said.
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