Entertainment & Arts

London Film Festival: Nate Parker to screen The Birth of a Nation

Nate Parker in The Birth of a Nation Image copyright AP
Image caption In The Birth of a Nation, Parker plays the leader of an 1831 slave revolt in Virginia

Actor and director Nate Parker will give his hotly tipped film The Birth of a Nation its European premiere at the BFI London Film Festival in October.

Parker, who has faced recent media scrutiny over a historic rape trial, will be in London for the screening.

The line-up also includes Oliver Stone's Snowden, about Edward Snowden, and La La Land, which has had rave reviews at the Venice Film Festival.

A 780-seat pop-up cinema will be erected in Victoria Embankment Gardens.

The festival will screen 245 feature films over 12 days from 5-16 October, including 18 world premieres.

One film to be given its European premiere will be Manchester by the Sea, which is seen as one of the frontrunners for next year's Oscars.

The family drama stars Casey Affleck and Michelle Williams. It has nothing to with the UK city, but is set in the small town of Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts.

Image copyright Paramount Pictures/AP

Other highlights will include:

  • Arrival (above), in which Amy Adams plays a linguist who must communicate with aliens when they land on Earth
  • Nocturnal Animals, another Amy Adams film and the second from fashion designer-turned-director Tom Ford, seven years after A Single Man
  • Lion, in which Nicole Kidman plays the adoptive mother of a man who begins a quest to trace his childhood in India
  • A Monster Calls, based on Patrick Ness's award-winning book about a 12-year-old boy who conjures up a monster to help him deal with his problems
  • Moonlight, thought to be another possible Oscar contender, is one of 12 features in the festival's official competition
Image copyright Jurgen Olczyk
Image caption Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden

As previously announced, Ben Wheatley's Free Fire will be the closing night gala, while Amma Asante's A United Kingdom will open the festival.

The festival will feature the UK premiere of Snowden, the Platoon and JFK director's dramatisation of the story of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

La La Land, meanwhile, in which Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling pay homage to the golden age of Hollywood, will be in London on the back of its rapturous reception in Venice.

It was described as "a sun-drenched musical masterpiece" by The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw, "the most audacious big-screen musical in a long time" by Variety's Owen Gleiberman and an "an all-singing, all-dancing Oscars frontrunner" by The Daily Telegraph's Robbie Collin.

Image copyright Summit Entertainment/AP
Image caption Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling bring back the golden age of Hollywood musicals in La La Land

Nate Parker has acted in, written and directed The Birth of a Nation, a drama about Nat Turner's 1831 slave rebellion.

With buzz about the film allied with headlines about Parker's past, it is bound to be one of the most keenly-watched premieres.

Recent media attention has been focused on Parker's acquittal for rape in 1999 and his accuser's subsequent suicide.

The Birth of a Nation will feature in Black Star, the British Film Institute's symposium to highlight the work of black actors.

Festival director Clare Stewart said: "For me it's one of the significant films of the year. In terms of Black Star, it's an incredibly important film.

"It's not for me to make any further comment about the controversy surrounding the director."

Image copyright London Film Festival
Image caption The Embankment Garden Cinema will host screenings plus talks by figures from the film world

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