Film festivals are the testing grounds for box office sustainability. Most films go there to die but some become darlings, finding distributors which lead tonationwide theater releases. The latest film festival favorite soon to hit theaters is Birth of a Nation (2016).

Not that 'Birth of a Nation'

The title of the film maybe confusing to those who know their film history. The first Birth of a Nation (1915) was a silent film that was originally entitled The Clansman and became hugely successful for being the first American film to be screened at the White House under then President Woodrow Wilson.

It divided the country due to its inflammatory portrayals of black slaves as violent and sexually aggressive while treating the klansmen as the story's heroes. The film became a recruiting tool for the Klu Klux Klan (KKK) after the Leo Frank was lynched for the murder of Mary Phagan in 1913.

Fast forward to present day and a new Birth of a Nation has arisen. This version is based on the true story of theNat Turner slave revolt in Southhampton, Virginia. Turner was a preacher and slave who led the revolt in real life that killed about 65 white people and later resulted in the death of approximately 200 black people.

It is a story that is in American lore but has never come to the silver screen because of its controversial nature. When asked about the title, director and starNate Parker (The Great Debaters) referred to it as a "reclamation" of controversial title according to CinemaBlend. The film certainly turned heads enough to break records. Fox Searchlight Pictures acquired it for an astounding $17.5 million, beating out previous film festival record breaker, Little Miss Sunshine.

A Compelling Trailer

The official trailer for the film was released Friday.

It's set to the tune of Nina Simone's "Strange Fruit," a haunting tune about lynching in the American south. The trailer features Parker as Nat Turner and shows his gradual progression from plantation preacher to revolt leader.

The images look compelling and it's certainly understandable why there is so much hype for the film. Still, it is sure to ruffle some feathers. This is not a film with lighthearted moments akin to Django Unchained.This a brutal slave epic about a controversial figure that the black community and the white community disagree on.

Some in both communities view Turner as monster and many in the black community see him as a revolutionary. Though the film does have recognizable names like Armie Hammer (The Man From U.N.C.L.E.) and Gabrielle Union (Bad Boys II), it might be a tough sell to a broad audience. Slave themed films are typically Oscar gold but audiences tend to shy away from them due to the uncomfortable subject matter and the awkward conversations that ensue thereafter. It will be interesting to see how this film will do in theaters but judging by FOX's interest, their banking on a blockbuster. The film is set to be released in theaters on October 7, 2017.

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