Every time a film about slavery in the U.S. is brought into a conversation someone inevitably asks, “What about a Nat Turner movie?” I always enjoy snidely killing the discussion with, “Why don’t you go make it?”
Now actor Nate Parker ( Non-Stop / The Great Debaters ) is accepting the challenge, which means I’ll have to adjust my antagonistic retort to, “Why don’t you help Nate Parker secure funding for it?”
“One of my biggest passions is to play Nat Turner,” he revealed in an interview with Shadow And Act back in February. “That’s a project that we’re working to get done. A lot of people thought he was a bad guy, but it’s perspective. I don’t think he was a bad guy at all, but we all have our ideas of what we want and why we want it, and what we’ll do to achieve those things.”
Then last month in an interview with the New York Times he elaborated on some exciting plans:
“I’m directing a film in the fall, a biopic on Nat Turner, who led the most successful slave revolt in American history. I call it the black ‘Braveheart.’ I wrote the script, I’m starring. That’s where I want to go. The goal for me is to push the envelope always.”
Not only has Nate written the script, he plans to star in the film and will also direct it, with filming stated to begin this Fall .
Nat Turner ‘s infamous 1831 slave rebellion in Virginia barely gets recognition in the state, which drills its Civil War history into children’s heads.
It was a story I had to be introduced to at home and through books my parents kept. So it’s unsurprising that this crucial part of history has yet to hit the big screen.
The most notable film project about Turner is Charles Burnett ‘s hour-long 2003 documentary, Nat Turner: A Troublesome Property , which aired on PBS in 2004 (watch below).
A scripted film on Turner’s revolt, which resulted in 55-65 white deaths, 100-200 black deaths, and Turner’s hanging, would greatly change the widespread misconception that enslaved Africans in North America were non-resistant.