The Birth of a Nation, Nate Parker’s feature directorial debut, was perhaps the biggest breakout movie at Sundance this year, as it set a huge sales record and got audiences talking anew about representation and diversity in Hollywood. (It even reportedly got one of the festival’s most passionate standing ovations.) Now, the general public finally gets its first good look at the film with its first teaser-trailer, which stars Parker himself as Nat Turner. It’s downright chill-inducing.
We watch the lead-up to Nat Turner’s historic slave uprising, as the literate slave and preacher increasingly questions the gross injustices occurring around him. The lyrics of Nina Simone’s haunting “Strange Fruit” play out over the first half of the trailer (“Black bodies swingin’ in the southern breeze/ Strange fruit hangin’ from the poplar trees”) as the scenes and atrocities Turner witnesses grow increasingly groteque. But the tone quickly changes as Turner delivers an impassioned sermon, encouraging his peers to “sing [to the Lord] a new song!” In the end, we see Turner leading his rebellion in a charge, weapons drawn, over a fervid, passionate drum beat. The movie hits theaters Oct. 7.