By Joey Nolfi
August 07, 2019 at 11:26 AM EDT
Venice Film Festival

Actor-filmmaker Nate Parker‘s first directorial feature since The Birth of a Nation is set to premiere at the 2019 Venice Film Festival.

The Italian event announced Wednesday that Oscar-winning BlacKkKlansman director Spike Lee will present Parker’s American Skin as part of the festival’s Sconfini section, which highlights arthouse, experimental, genre-bending, or otherwise offbeat projects from around the world.

Parker (who also wrote and produced the film’s screenplay) stars in the project as Lincoln Jefferson, a recently divorced Marine veteran working as a janitor at an elite middle school in California while attempting to mend his relationship with his son. His world comes crashing down, however, when the boy is shot during a routine police check and the offending officer is cleared of wrongdoing without going to court. Lincoln then takes the entire police station hostage so he can conduct a trial of his own to bring justice to his son.

Parker previously rose to prominence after his slavery drama The Birth of a Nation screened at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, where the Nat Turner biopic garnered rave reviews from movie critics before landing an Oscar-positioning release date by Fox Searchlight. After its debut, the film and Parker became embroiled in controversy when details resurfaced about a 1999 rape case from when he was a student at Penn State University. Parker and former roommate Jean Celestin (who shares a story credit on Birth of a Nation) were accused of raping a fellow student while she was unconscious. Parker has maintained his innocence and was acquitted in a 2001 trial. Celestin was convicted of sexual assault, but the verdict was later overturned when the accuser declined to testify for a retrial. The accuser died by suicide in 2012.

Also joining the 76th Venice Film Festival’s Sconfini’s section is Graeme A. Scott’s Beyond the Beach: The Hell and the Hope, a nonfiction chronicle of the doctors, nurses, and volunteers who work in war-torn regions as part of Italy’s non-goernmental organization called Emergency. Created in 1994 by war surgeon Dr. Gino Strada, Emergency’s revolving door of staff has helped save roughly 9 million lives between providing frontline for explosion injuries in Kabul to aiding refugee camps in Iraq, according to a Venice press release.

The 2019 Venice Film Festival — which is set to host screenings of Brad Pitt’s Ad Astra, Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker, Timothée Chalamet’s The King, Kristen Stewart’s Seberg, and Steven Soderbergh’s The Laundromat as part of its lineup — runs Aug. 28-Sept. 7. Ticketing information is available on the festival website, and you can check out the full lineup for this year’s edition here.

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