The Venice Film Festival has added Birth Of A Nation filmmaker Nate Parker’s American Skin to its Sconfini section, a move that is likely to draw increased attention to the Lido event. The drama about police violence and racism in America is directed, written by and stars Parker and is his first feature since news of rape allegations from his college days surfaced during the release of Birth Of A Nation in 2016. Parker had stood trial in 1999 and was acquitted of the charges, but the controversy derailed his promising directing debut.
In American Skin, Parker plays Lincoln Jefferson, a Marine veteran, and now a janitor at a prestigious junior high school in California, who is trying to mend his relationship with his son after his divorce. One day, during a routine police check, the boy is killed, but the officer guilty of shooting him is declared innocent without having to face trial. Disheartened for having been denied due process, Lincoln takes the entire police station hostage, and stages a trial in which the members of the jury are the inmates and common people, acting in the stead of government to finally bring justice to his son.
The premiere of American Skin will be attended by Spike Lee, the festival said. Lee will present the film together with Parker and the two will hold a discussion post-screening. Lee today praised Parker, saying he “has concocted a brave tour de force. I haven’t been affected by a film like this on so many levels in a long, long time. It is my hope and prayer that the movie audience will understand this battle between love and hate, which has divided our world. Bravo Nate, bravo.”
Also starring in American Skin are Omari Hardwick, Theo Rossi and Beau Knapp. Set and shot in Los Angeles, the picture is is produced by Mark Burg, Tarak Ben Ammar and Lukas Behnken. This is the first U.S. co-production for Ben Ammar’s Italian shingle Eagle Pictures.
Venice has also added documentary Beyond the Beach: The Hell And The Hope by Graeme A Scott and Buddy Squires to the Sconfini section. The doc, producer Scott’s directing debut, looks at the work of Italian NGO, Emergency, providing a glimpse into the lives of doctors, nurses and volunteers who have given up their everyday lives to work in war-ravaged areas of the world.
In other news today, U.S. filmmaker Terence Nance has joined the jury for the Venice Debut Film Award alongside Emir Kusturica, Antonietta De Lillo, Hend Sabry and producer Michael J Werner.