Nate Parker , whose new film ” American Skin ” received a number of negative reviews at the Venice Film Festival, said Monday that he doesnât care what critics say and that his goal is to make art that connects with audiences.
“I made this film for people to see it,” Parker told Variety in an exclusive interview at the Deauville Film Festival, where ” American Skin ” is having its French premiere Monday. He described the film, a drama about racial injustice in the U.S., as a “call for action.”
But the film does not have any domestic or international distribution in place yet â” apart from Italy, where the filmâs producer, Tarak Ben Ammar, will release it through his banner Eagle Pictures. “American Skin” was supposed to be screened for select buyers at Toronto, but Ben Ammar, who produced the movie with Mark Burg, said he decided to cancel the private screening to show the film first to festival audiences in Deauville and at the El Gouna festival in Egypt.
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Ben Ammar told Variety that he has been approached by several distributors, including independent companies and streaming services. He did not disclose the companiesâ names. He said the endorsement of Spike Lee, who was in Venice last week to help promote “American Skin,” was crucial to give the film some visibility, especially in the U.S.
While in Venice, Parker acknowledged that he had been “tone deaf” in his past remarks regarding the rape charge he faced as a college student. He was tried and acquitted in that case. His accuser later killed herself.
Although “American Skin” received mainly negative reviews from American critics in Venice, it won the Sconfini Sectionâs best film prize. Parker told reporters in Deauville on Monday that he doesnât “care what people say about me, what they think about me.”
“My only job is reflect society. Sometimes that reflection isnât an image people want to see, but Iâm an artist so I try to stay awayâ¦.Iâm not here to make a headline,” said a tearful Parker when asked whether he thought the film would be better received by European critics that American ones.
Parker, whose debut feature “The Birth of a Nation” told the story of Nat Turner’s life and the slave rebellion he led in 1831, said he was compelled to make another film dealing with racism, partly because he grew up in Virginia.
“Virginia is one of the most destructive slave states.. a lot of that trauma is passed down. We try to pretend that racism is something that can only be achieved by the Ku Klux Klan or Nazis but thatâs not true — Racism is everywhere,” said Parker.
“When Spike Lee saw this film he was very emotional and he said â30 years ago I made a film âDo The Right Thingâ and it was based on a real person (Michael Stewart) who was chocked by the police and it paid homage to that and put a spotlight on that in my film. 30 years later I watch this film thatâs asking us to deal racism and police violence in America.âAnd he was so upset,” said Parker. The filmmaker then quoted Malcolm X. “He has a great quote that says if you plunge a knife nine inches in my back and takes it out four inches itâs not progress. He said if you take it out all the way thatâs not progress. Itâs only if you clean the wound, treat the wound, and then we talk about why you put the knife in my back in the first place that we can have healing,” said Parker.
Parker said we “have a long way to go with racism, and a long way with sexism, and gender inequality and xenophobia, and we realise this everyday when we look up at the news.”
“I donât have all the answers, Iâm an imperfect man, Iâm just trying to use my art as a platform to add a little to the conversation for legacy stake,” said Parker.
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