Nate Parker accepts Sundance award, creates youth fellowship

LOS ANGELES — The writer, director, producer and star of "The Birth of a Nation" says the Sundance Institute offered him encouragement and support when he needed it most.

"They are the family I never had in this industry," Nate Parker said as he accepted the organization's Vanguard Award at a fundraising dinner Thursday night at the Ace Hotel in Los Angeles.

Parker wants other aspiring filmmakers to have the same opportunity, so the cast and crew of "The Birth of a Nation" is endowing a fellowship for a young filmmaker of color to participate in the Sundance Institute's Ignite program each year for the next five years.

Parker said Sundance support validated and inspired him as he struggled to bring the true story of slave rebellion leader Nat Turner to the screen in "The Birth of a Nation." The film won audience and grand jury prizes when it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January. Fox Searchlight will release it in October.

Parker compared the long process of making the film to being on a deserted island.

"You're by yourself and all you have in your hand is your script and your dream — whatever that thing is, your voice — and you're surrounded by fear," he said.

That's when the Sundance Feature Film Program stepped in to help, and Parker said he's been "desperately humbled" to accept its support and accolades.

Parker is the fifth filmmaker to receive the Vanguard Award, joining previous recipients Benh Zeitlin ("Beasts of the Southern Wild"), Ryan Coogler ("Fruitvale Station"), Damien Chazelle ("Whiplash") and Marielle Heller ("The Diary of a Teenage Girl"). "Fruitvale Station" star Michael B. Jordan presented Parker with the prize, which includes ongoing mentorship and a cash grant.

"I've worked very hard to use my art to combat injustices everywhere I see them," Parker said. "That's my voice ... and having institutions like Sundance support those things is everything."

___

Follow AP Entertainment Writer Sandy Cohen at www.twitter.com/APSandy .

___

This story corrects name of student Sundance program to Ignite.

Related News

Terminally ill woman holds party before ending...

Aug 11, 2016

Betsy Davis, an artist with Lou Gehrig's disease, threw a two-day party last month to say goodbye...

CW's 'Supergirl' and 'The Flash' planning musical...

Aug 11, 2016

The CW's 'Supergirl' and 'The Flash' to air a pair of crossover musical episodes later in the...

Daughter of Motown stars to Detroit students:...

Aug 11, 2016

The daughter of Motown Records founder Berry Gordy and one of its biggest stars, Diana Ross, says...

Stephen Colbert, Showtime in talks for live...

Aug 11, 2016

Showtime is in talks with Stephen Colbert to host a live election-night comedy special, the...

Taran Killam and Jay Pharoah each land a Showtime...

Aug 11, 2016

Taran Killam and Jay Pharoah will each star in their own half-hour comedy series for Showtime

Bollywood's Shah Rukh Khan gets US apology for...

Aug 12, 2016

Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan tweeted that he gets detained at U.S. airports "every damn time"...

Must Read

Nate Parker accepts Sundance award, creates youth...

Aug 12, 2016

The writer, director, producer and star of "The Birth of a Nation" says the Sundance Institute...

Video proves Clinton suffering seizures? Not so,...

Aug 13, 2016

Video purporting to show Clinton suffering a seizure is latest in unfounded speculation

Trump goes on tear against media, not Clinton

Aug 14, 2016

Trump campaign blames 'disgusting' press for a week of distractions at a time when Republicans...

Court rejects Cosby's attempt to reseal testimony...

Aug 15, 2016

A federal appeals court has rejected Bill Cosby's effort to reseal his deposition testimony about...

'Fun Home' national tour will be led by an...

Aug 16, 2016

A national tour of the groundbreaking Broadway musical "Fun Home" will be led by some theater...

Sign up now!