The drama about police violence and racism in America is directed, written by and stars Parker and is his first feature since news of rape allegations from his college days surfaced during the release of Birth Of A Nation in 2016. Parker had stood trial in 1999 and was acquitted of the charges, but the controversy derailed his promising directing debut.
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Parker was asked during the presser about his journey since making his first movie, “The last three years have been such a humbling experience for me. I’ve gained so much wisdom from people in my circle. The reality is that three years ago I was pretty tone deaf to certain situations that were happening. I learnt a lot from it. I know a lot of people were hurt and I apologize to those people.”
Today Lee, who is championing Parker and American Skin, added about the filmmaker’s past, “Nate is not hiding. He’s answering the questions. And we’re moving forward.”
In American Skin, Parker plays Lincoln Jefferson, a Marine veteran, and now a janitor at a prestigious junior high school in California, who is trying to mend his relationship with his son after his divorce. One day, during a routine police check, the boy is killed, but the officer guilty of shooting him is declared innocent without having to face trial. Disheartened for having been denied due process, Lincoln takes the entire police station hostage, and stages a trial in which the members of the jury are the inmates and common people, acting in the stead of government to finally bring justice to his son.
Parker said today, “I feel very honored to be at the Venice Film Festival with a film I believe so desperately in. I’m an artist. Nina Simone once said the artist’s job is to reflect the times they live in. We live in very dark times, particularly in the United States.”
Lee has described the film as “a brave tour de force,” adding, “I haven’t been affected by a film like this on so many levels in a long, long time. It is my hope and prayer that the movie audience will understand this battle between love and hate, which has divided our world. Bravo Nate, bravo.”
Also starring in the movie are Omari Hardwick, Theo Rossi and Beau Knapp. Set and shot in Los Angeles, the picture is produced by Mark Burg, Tarak Ben Ammar and Lukas Behnken. It’s the first U.S. co-production for former TWC board member Ben Ammar’s Italian shingle Eagle Pictures.
Producer Burg, who also took part in the presser with producer Ben Ammar, said of the film’s distribution chances, “No distributors have seen the movie yet. This is the first screening of the movie. I love this move. I think Nate’s a genius. He’s perhaps the most talented director I’ve worked with. The minute I read this script I knew it was a story that needed to be told and I wrote a cheque. Tarak and I felt the same.”
Parker, who reached out to the actors individually to ask them to take part in the movie, said he and Spike had discussed the possibility of screening the film for police officers in Brooklyn and Philadelphia. “If one life is changed, that will make a difference. We’ll never know what Trayvon Martin would have gone on to do. Or Mike Brown. It’s about dialogue. This film is about finding a way to re-install human dignity.’
Lee added about the “dark times” referred to by Parker, “The former President of the United States Barack Hussein Obama said that this upcoming election will be the most important in our history. To use a little profanity, sh**’s a little f*****ed up. I hope people register to vote because this guy [Donald Trump] has got to go. He has done many evil things but one thing that has really struck me is infants being torn out of the arms of their mothers. That’s where we are in the supposed cradle of democracy. The supposed leader of the free world isn’t trying to free anyone, he’s trying to put people in cages. That’s where we are.”
American Skin had its press screening yesterday and will have a public screening this evening followed by a Q and A with the public.