Fox Searchlight acquires 'Birth of a Nation' in record Sundance deal

the birth of a nation
"The Birth of a Nation," a sensation at Sundance Film Festival, has been acquired by Fox Searchlight for $17.5 million.

Fox Searchlight has closed the biggest deal in the history of the Sundance Film Festival.

Nate Parker's "The Birth of a Nation," a drama about Nat Turner's slave rebellion in 1831, has been acquired by Fox Searchlight Pictures, 20th Century Fox's sister company that primarily focuses on independent films, the studio confirmed.

According to Variety, Fox Searchlight obtained the film for $17.5 million, making it the biggest deal in Sundance history. The film, which is written, directed, and stars Parker, was being bid on by The Weinstein Company, Sony, and Netflix.

Parker's "Nation" has been the talk of this year's festival earning a "rapturous standing ovation" at its premiere, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

It has also been one of the most critically acclaimed films at Sundance.

"A biographical drama steeped equally in grace and horror, it builds to a brutal finale that will stir deep emotion and inevitable unease," wrote Variety's chief film critic, Justin Chang.

The film shares its title with D.W. Griffith's controversial 1915 film about the Ku Klux Klan, a move that Parker said was done on purpose.

"Griffith's film relied heavily on racist propaganda to evoke fear and desperation as a tool to solidify white supremacy as the lifeblood of American sustenance," Parker told Filmmaker magazine. "I've reclaimed this title and re-purposed it as a tool to challenge racism and white supremacy in America."

Related: Oscars make changes to boost diversity amid #OscarsSoWhite backlash

The deal comes as discussions involving diversity in the film industry are taking place following a lack of people of color nominated at this year's Academy Awards.

The Sundance Film Festival -- which takes place in Park City, Utah -- attracts some of the biggest names in Hollywood, who go to the festival in pursuit of finding the next big award-winning film.

Some notable films like "Little Miss Sunshine," "Reservoir Dogs," and "Whiplash" have been screened at the festival in past years.


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