The American Film Institute has canceled its Friday screening of “Birth of a Nation,” which was to be followed by a Q&A with filmmaker and star Nate Parker, whose 1999 rape case has put the filmmaker and distributor Fox Searchlight on the defensive this past week.
AFI dean Jan Schuette made the announcement to students late Tuesday. The AFI screening would have been Parker’s first public event since the story about the rape case became widely known earlier this month.
“I have been the recipient of many different passionate points of view about the screening, and I believe it is essential that we discuss these issues together — messenger and message, gender, race and more — before we see the film,” Schuette said. “Next week, we will be scheduling a special moderated discussion so we may explore these issues together as artists and audience.”
Following AFI pulling a screening, the Toronto International Film Festival has followed suit. The film was supposed to be screened several times throughout the festival, but the film is not listed anywhere on the full schedule out this morning.
A spokeswoman for the festival told Deadline, “That’s definitive, it’s definitely not going to happen.”
Fox will hold a different AFI screening of “Birth” later this year. The studio has vowed to continue its theatrical release and publicity tour for the Nat Turner biopic, which opens Oct. 7, despite the recent headlines involving Parker.