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Sundance releases first look at Nat Turner biopic The Birth of a Nation

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Elliot Davis/Sundance Institute

Just yesterday, Sundance announced the slate of films that will be competing at the 2016 festival, from the Nick Jonas-starring drama Goat, to Swiss Army Man, featuring Daniel Radcliffe as a dead body. But one of the most anticipated films is Nate Parker’s drama The Birth of a Nation, which, although it shares a name with the landmark 1915 racist drama of the same name, tells a very different story.

Nat Turner was a literate slave and preacher who devised a plan to lead his people to freedom. In 1831, he led a violent uprising on several Virginia plantations, planting the fear of God into the hearts of white Southern slaveholders. Parker (The Great Debators) pulled triple duty on the film, directing, writing, and starring as Turner. Armie Hammer, Aja Naomi King, Jackie Earle Haley, Gabrielle Union, and Mark Boone Jr. also star.

“[Parker] creates a very singular piece of history that most people don’t know about and doesn’t shy away from the complicated nature of that,” Sundance’s director John Cooper told EW. “I think it’s going to be one of the real conversation pieces of the festival.”

The Birth of a Nation will make its world premiere in competition at the Sundance Film Festival, which runs Jan. 21 through 31 in Park City, Utah. See more images from the film below.

Elliot Davis/Sundance
Elliot Davis/Sundance
Elliot Davis/Sundance
Elliot Davis/Sundance
Elliot Davis/Sundance