'Birth Of A Nation's Nate Parker Responds To #OscarsSoWhite — "We Need Resistance In 2016"

Before the film even began, audiences at Sundance Film Festival 2016 welcomed filmmaker and actor Nate Parker onto the stage with a standing ovation to celebrate his film The Birth of a Nation . The 36-year-old storyteller has spent the last seven years committing his talents to bringing the story of Nat Turner, a slave rebellion leader, to the big screen. He temporarily gave up acting, raised $10 million to fund the film, and directed and starred in the movie himself. This was clearly a huge moment for Parker, and audiences could feel it.

The ambitious filmmaker spoke with Bustle before the film's Monday night premiere about why nearly 200 years after he led the 1831 slave rebellions, Turner's story is one we can no longer ignore. "We need resistance in 2016," the Virginia native says. "As long as there are injustices, there is a need for resistance. As long as we call ourself human, and want to see progress in humanity, then we have a job to do. You're a journalist. You're here and you're covering this and giving a platform for this film. There are a lot of places you could be."

When asked about his reaction to the social media campaign #OscarsSoWhite, Parker tells Bustle: "If we say we want to see more diversity — whether it is in film, in television, or anything — we all have to be part of the solution. I think people use a lot of buzz words — there's a lot of controversy and division. I think we all need to start looking for solutions. What are we willing to do to be progressive in the way that we promote films, and in the way that we make films? We have to hit it head on."

According to the filmmaker, Parker's intense focus on making the period slave movie has a greater purpose. "I just hope that when people come out [of the theater] they question systems that are oppressive, they question their roles, what they could do more of, whatever their job or occupation is," he says.

The film received another round of rapturous applause once the credits rolled, and it seems audiences are already impassioned by Turner — and Parker's — profound message.

Images: Bron Studios