The Venice Film Fest is coming to a close but not without a little controversy. Spike Lee is standing firmly behind Nate Parker whose American Skin played at Venice and just won the Sconfini Section’s Best Film and earned an 11 minute standing ovation.
Parker, as you recall, had a strong contender with Birth of a Nation headed into the Oscar race when his rape allegations re-surfaced. It had gone from bad to worse back then and any success he achieves now will dredge it all back up again. The Venice Film Fest chose to show the film, as they chose to show the Polanski film, making the clear statement that they don’t believe in continually punishing people for things they did 20 or 40 years ago.
The problem is that if you are young and you only know Obama as your president you might not understand that sometimes people make mistakes – horrible mistakes — but that doesn’t make a person unworthy of working for a living, or even creating art. The new film by Trey Edward Shults, Waves, is about this very thing. People DO bad things — but that doesn’t necessarily make them bad people. I know, I know – this is all verboten. I am putting on my shitstorm raincoat as we speak. Anyway, Nate Parker’s film screened and won an award.
The plot: “American Skin weaves a layered story in the tradition of Sidney Lumet’s 12 Angry Men and Dog Day Afternoon that follows a Black Iraqi War Vet, who after being denied of a fair trial following the shooting death of his teenage son (his only child) by a white police officer, desperately seeks justice and accountability for his son’s death.”
Here is Spike Lee on Nate Parker
And here is Nate Parker apologizing.
Venice, September 6th 2019. The Filming Italy critical jury, composed of Tiziana Rocca, artistic director of the Filming Italy Award, Franco Montini, President of the Sindacato Nazionale Critici Cinematografici Italiani (SNCCI), Luciano Sovena, President of the Roma Lazio Film Commission and Vito Sinopoli, Editor of Best Movie magazine, has decided to award the Filming Italy Award for Best Film of the SCONFINI SECTION – featured this year among the official awards of the Festival – to American Skin by Nate Parker.
The Filming Italy Award is an award created by Tiziana Rocca with the aim of promoting Italian cinema abroad and bringing together different cultures.
Director and protagonist of the film Nate Parker and producer Tarak Ben Ammar, as well as President of the Venice Film Festival Alberto Barbera, attended the award ceremony that took place on Friday, September 6th, at 4.00 pm at the Italian Pavilion of the Hotel Excelsior (please find photos of the event here).
In presenting the award, the jury stated: “Nate Parker confronts the theme of racism in contemporary society through a story that is tense, vibrant and deliberately provocative, contrasting the different points of view of its protagonists with the intent of encouraging discussion amongst viewers.”
American Skin, presented at its world premiere in Venice by Spike Lee along with writer, director and actor Nate Parker, captivated critics and received an 11 minute standing ovation at the end of the screening for the public. The film, entirely set and shot in Los Angeles, is produced by Mark Burg, Lukas Behnken and Tarak Ben Ammar though Eagle Pictures, the first Italian company to produce an entirely American film on a theme of this genre.