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AFI, Toronto Film Fest Nix Events With Nate Parker

The controversy surrounding Nate Parker ahead of the release of his critically-acclaimed film The Birth of a Nation continues. Recently, the conversation about the filmmaker reached a fevered pitch after a 1999 rape allegation resurfaced, casting doubt on the once certain success of Parker’s award-winning film.

While Parker and his team may have hoped the criticism would die down, two high profile cancelations have insured that the drama surrounding the filmmaker will continue.

Parker was slated to appear at the American Film Institute on Friday for a screening and a Q&A session, but many of the institute’s students expressed their disapproval about the event, citing Parker’s past rape allegation.

“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,” Jan Schuette, the dean of AFI, said in a statement.

Schuette indicated that a screening of the Nat Turner biopic would happen later in the year.

Parker will also not be appearing at the Toronto International Film Festival next month. Although Birth of a Nation will screen several times during the prestigious event, the actor and director will not be available for a press conference or Q&A sessions, an uncharacteristic move for such a high-profile film with Oscar potential.

Fox Searchlight acquired the film for $17.5 million after Parker dazzled audiences at February’s Sundance Film Festival. But the recent controversy around a 1999 rape charge, of which Parker was acquitted in 2001, has put a damper on the project’s release.