Though it doesn’t always happen this way, entries in the Sundance Film Festival can often be players when it comes to end of the year awards, including the biggie, the Oscars. Case in point, this year’s Best Picture nominee Brooklyn premiered in Park City last January, and here it still is, in the mix for the biggest prize in Hollywood. This year at Sundance, the story, the one that got the most play, was Nate Parker’s racially charged The Birth of a Nation, which ignited audiences and a bidding war, the winner of which has now set a release date that indicates they have big Oscar hopes for this one.

Fox Searchlight won the rights to Birth of a Nation last month for their record-breaking $17.5 million bid. Nate Parker and the other producers reportedly turned down $20 million from Netflix, likely because they were after a wider theatrical release (and probably an awards push, too), but it was still the biggest payday in Sundance history. Now Fox Searchlight, via a press release, has set the release date for October 7, which places Birth of a Nation squarely in the prime time for prestigious pictures to get into the awards conversation.

This looks like Fox Searchlight could be using a similar strategy as they employed this year with Brooklyn. That film debuted at Sundance, popped up at the Toronto International Film Festival in September, got a limited release early in November, and a wide bow later that month. Though Birth of a Nation is slated to go straight into wide release on October 7, don’t be too surprised if it pops up at one of the major fall festivals like TIFF or Telluride just to reignite the public fervor for the film.

Birth of a Nation, which won the both the Audience Award and Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, is set in the antebellum South and traces Nat Turner’s famous slave rebellion that took place in Virginia in 1831. Turner (played by Nate Parker, who also wrote and directed the film) is a slave and preacher. When his owner, Samuel Turner (Armie Hammer), strapped for cash, agrees to let people use Nat’s preaching to quell unrest amongst other slaves, in his travels he sees vicious atrocities perpetrated against his fellow slaves, and himself, and he leads an uprising hoping to free his people.

Co-opting the title of DW Griffith’s 1913 silent film of the same name, which is essentially a Ku Klux Klan propaganda film, Birth of a Nation received rave reviews coming out of Sundance. In addition to Nate Parker and Armie Hammer, the film also stars Gabrielle Union, Jackie Earle Haley, Aja Naomi King, Aunjanue Ellis, Penelope Miller, and more. And now we know that those of us who weren’t fortunate enough to be in Park City last month will be able to see Birth of a Nation on October 7.

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