While answering questions about The Birth of a Nation at a 2016 Toronto International Film Festival press conference, the topic of Nate Parker’s rape allegations repeatedly came up, as did inquiries about why he still has not apologized to the family of his late accuser.
The director avoided all of them in an attempt to refocus the conversation on the film, saying that he didn’t want the matters of his personal life to “hijack” the work of the whole cast and crew.
“I’ve addressed it, and I’m sure in future forums I’ll address it more,” Parker said in a press conference moderated by Essence’s Cori Murray. “But the reality is no one person makes a film. We’ve had over 400 people involved in this project ... I would just encourage everyone to remember that, personal life aside, I’m just one person. The way we ran our set, there was no hierarchy. We did our very best to create the type of atmosphere that everyone was included and, in fact, there were many ideas that ended up on screen that were not my own.”
The questions continued, and Cara Buckley of the New York Times tried to revisit the topic of an apology for his accuser’s family, but Parker stayed firm: “This [press conference] is a forum for the film and for the other people sitting on this stage. I do not own it. It is not mine. So I don’t want to hijack this with my personal life."
TIFF marks the first high-profile appearance of the director since news broke of the 1999 sexual assault allegations.