The fallout of the controversy surrounding Nate Parker continues. The American Film Institute announced Tuesday that it has canceled an upcoming screening of The Birth of a Nation—Parker’s Sundance-winning sensation about slave rebellion leader Nat Turner—as well as a Q&A event with the director that was planned to follow. This would have marked Parker’s first major public appearance since his involvement in a 1999 rape case became widely known.
The story continues to get more complicated for Parker and his film’s distributor, Fox Searchlight, which has prepared a major awards campaign in advance of an Oct. 7 release date. (This remains, for now, unchanged.) After Deadline first broke details of the case—in which Parker and co-writer Jean Celestin were charged with the rape of an 18-year-old classmate during their time at Penn State University, with Parker being acquitted and Celestin found guilty of sexual assault—Variety then discovered that the alleged victim, whose name Slate is not publishing, died by suicide in 2012 after several prior attempts.
AFI’s decision to cancel its screening of Birth of a Nation comes a week after this latest revelation. “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,” AFI dean Jan Schuette said. “Next week, we will be scheduling a special moderated discussion so we may explore these issues together as artists and audience.”
According to Variety, AFI still intends to screen Birth of a Nation at some point, and Fox Searchlight remains committed to the film despite having to navigate an increasingly troubling set of circumstances.