American Skin: Nate Parker, Director of Birth of a Nation, Admits to Being Tone Deaf

Director Nate Parker, in an effort to make a legit comeback, was in apologetic mode Sunday at the 2019 Venice Film Fest. He admitted that he had been “tone deaf” in his past remarks about the rape charge he had faced as a college student two decades ago.

“The last three years have been such a learning experience for me,” he said at a press conference on the Lido for his new film, the police-brutality drama American Skin.“I feel like I have gained so much wisdom from people in my circle,” he added.

“Three years ago I was pretty tone deaf to the realities of certain situations that were happening in the climate. And I’ve had a lot of time to think about that, and I’ve learned a lot from it,” he said. “And being tone deaf, there were a lot of people that were hurt in my response, in the way I approached things. I apologize to those people.”

Parker made a splash in 2016 with his debut film, The Birth of a Nation, which was acquired by Fox Searchlight in a record $17.5 million deal at Sundance but tanked at the box office. Its prospects were negatively affected when news resurfaced that Parker had been charged with rape as a college student. Although he was acquitted in that case, in 2001, his response to the situation was judged callous, especially when it emerged that his accuser later committed suicide.

“I’ve learned, I’m continuing to learn,” he said Sunday. “I’m 39 years old now. Hopefully I have a long way to go. The hope is that I can continue taking the wisdom from people who care enough…and help me to be introspective about where I am and what I’ve been through.”

Parker feels very honored to be in Venice Fest with American Skin, a film that, he said, “I believe so desperately in.”

Spike Lee‘s Support

Spike Lee, who is in Venice to support Parker and the film, said that he and Parker talked about what had happened in the past. “He explained to me the growth he had gone through, and also the pain, and when he said that, I said, ‘Come on, brother. I’m with you. That’s why I’m here.”