The Sundance Institute gave Nate Parker its Vanguard leadership award at a ceremony in Los Angeles on Thursday night, marking another milestone for Parker and his upcoming social justice-themed film, The Birth Of A Nation. In accepting the prize—which in prior years went to filmmakers Benh Zeitlin, Ryan Coogler, Damien Chazelle and Marielle Heller—Parker announced that he and the cast and producing team behind The Birth Of A Nation would fund a fellowship for 18-to-24-year-old filmmakers participating in the Sundance Ignite program.
The Birth Of A Nation, purchased by Fox Searchlight Pictures at the 2016 Sundance festival for a record $17.5 million, had been made with support from a Sundance program. Through a private foundation, Parker in July announced plans to support a film program for students at Wiley College, a black liberal arts college in Marshall, TX. The Birth of A Nation is set for release by Fox Searchlight on October 7. It re-tells the story of the Nat Turner slave rebellion of 1831, with an eye on contemporary racial tensions.