Nate Parker is attempting a comeback after catastrophically falling from grace three years ago, just ahead of the release of his Sundance hit Birth Of A Nation. At the time, resurfaced rape allegations and his handling of them all but sunk his promising directing career. Now, the actor and filmmaker is back on the festival circuit with a new offering, a film called American Skin. And, it turns out, critics aren’t being as kind to this one as they were to Birth Of A Nation.
IndieWire’s David Ehrlich described American Skin as a “terrible comeback” and “a clumsy found-footage political drama” that “is so bad that [Parker] deserves to be canceled on artistic grounds alone,” while Screen Daily panned, “Parker confuses overheated, earnest banality for unfiltered truth.” The film also currently has a 14 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
During a press conference at the Deauville Film Festival in France, Nate Parker addressed his critics over his latest film, American Skin.
“I don't care what they say about me, what they think about me, I don't care. I'm gonna make art for our children's children,” he said during the press conference, according to The Hollywood Reporter. “My only job as an artist is to reflect. Sometimes that reflection isn't an image people want to see, but I'm an artist so I try to stay away.”
“I'm not here to make a headline,” he continued. “I have five daughters and if I'm really blessed they will marry five great men, they'll have children, inevitably they'll have boys and they will look like me. If they are no more safe in their time than I am in this time I have failed as a human being, I have failed as a father and I've failed as an artist. I don't want to get involved in anything that takes away from the urgency of that.”
Three years ago, after Parker’s directorial debut for Birth of a Nation, Fox Searchlight abandoned an Oscar campaign for the film after details of a rape charge resurfaced in the media. Even though Parker was acquitted of the charge in 2001, his attempt to dismiss, and then explain, the allegations was shockingly inadequate according to many, especially considering the alleged victim later committed suicide. He reflected over his actions during the press conference.
“The last three years have been such a learning experience for me...The reality is that three years ago I was absolutely tone deaf to the realities of certain situations that were happening in the climate,” he said. “There were a lot of people that were hurt by the way I responded and how I approached things, and I apologize to those people. It has been a journey.”
Parker said he hopes American Skin can save lives. “If a film can do that, then we win. I'm not a surgeon, there are people every day that do more important thing than me,” he said. “I'm just a filmmaker.”
American Skin does not yet have a distributor and no release date has been set.
Photo: Francois G. Durand/Getty Images