As a rape survivor, victim’s advocate and an actress in The Birth of a Nation, Gabrielle Union has found herself in an impossible position. Union recently, along with the much of the world, learned that her film’s director, writer, producer and star, Nate Parker, was accused and acquitted of rape 17 years ago.
Yes, you read this right. Acquitted.
Union, who was raped at gunpoint in the backroom of a Payless shoe store 24 years ago, says she’s been “in a state of stomach-churning confusion” since learning of Parker’s 1999 rape case.
“As important and ground-breaking as this film is, I cannot take these allegations lightly,” she wrote.
‘These allegations’ aren’t your concern. They’ve been taken through the legal system and the man has been found not guilty. What on earth’s your problem?
It remains unclear how all this might affect the release of the film, its public perception or even its awards chances. Distributor Fox Searchlight is proceeding with the October release and will still take the film, and Parker, to the Toronto International Film Festival this month.
But things look very different from just a month ago when Parker was happily accepting a Sundance Vanguard Award and taking meetings in the White House. Union’s op-ed “is certainly bad news for Searchlight, in that it keeps the focus firmly on this issue going into Toronto,” said David Poland, the editor in chief of MovieCityNews.com and a longtime industry observer. “I can’t say that the film won’t do business. It might. But half of what it might have. And its awards prospects are on their death bed.”
If the film was good beforehand, how is it suddenly not good now?
Union, for her part, says that she has read the 700 pages of court transcript from the case and doesn’t know for sure what happened that night.
Since when was this what she was hired for? Just hit your mark, say the lines and quit when the director yells ‘Cut!’. That’s what you’re hired for.