The Birth of a Nation star, writer and director Nate Parker is executive producing an hour-long documentary on his film’s subject, slave revolt leader Nat Turner, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The special is entitled Rise Up: The Legacy of Nat Turner and it airs on Friday, the same day The Birth of a Nation makes its theatrical debut.
The documentary will give insight into Nat Turner’s life, his role in the revolt and his death as well as detail the 1831 historical and bloody slave rebellion in Virginia. Beyond its focus on Turner, the film will also traverse the climate of the time period, tracing the circumstances that led to the violent uprising and its aftermath, a precursor to the Civil War.
Hosted by Roger Guenveur Smith (The Birth of a Nation, Dope), the documentary houses interviews from relatives of those who shaped the events, including Frederick Douglass’ third-great-grandson Kenneth Morris, Jr. and Turner descendants Evelyn Sykes Hawkins and Vivian Claude Lucas.
“Nat Turner left a lasting legacy that continues to resonate with Americans today,” Parker said in a statement via THR. “Working on this documentary allowed us to give the public the background knowledge of who Turner was and why his rebellion has left such a lasting impact on our country.”
While The Birth of a Nation has received much buzz and accolades in the wake of its premiere at Sundance, controversy has surrounded the film stemming from a 1999 rape charge involving Parker and film cowriter Jean Celestin. Parker was acquitted in 2001. Celestin was originally convicted, though his case was later overturned after he appealed in 2005 and the case never went to court because the accuser declined to testify. The accuser committed suicide in 2012.
Nat Geo’s Rise Up: The Legacy of Nat Turner will premiere on Friday at 10 p.m. ET.