Mel Gibson Defends ‘Birth of a Nation’ Director Nate Parker

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Mel Gibson is coming to the defense of Nate Parker, whose film, The Birth of a Nation, has been overshadowed by Parker’s real-life arrest and trial on rape charges in 1999, of which he was eventually acquitted.

At a Hollywood Reporterevent (via The Guardian), Gibson said he didn’t think it was “fair” that Parker’s film about the slave rebellion in 1830s Virginia, led by Nat Turner, has all been ignored by movie audiences, due to the controversy. “He was cleared of all that stuff,” said Gibson. “And it was years ago. You have to follow the system there.”

The Hacksaw Ridge director added, “I think he’s innocent of all that stuff. The fact that he has to live with that stigma, and that it affects the art he does, is unfair.”

When asked about his own past personal issues and whether it has affected his work, Gibson replied, “My God, any experience you have in life enriches your work somehow, good or bad. I developed a lot of things when I had some time off. It was the off-season, you might say. It’s just so good to be able to come back and do what I love doing, just tell stories. We’re all just storytellers, right?”

Gibson appeared with fellow directors Mira Nair (Queen of Katwe), Denzel Washington (Fences), Oliver Stone (Snowden), Damien Chazelle (La La Land) and Barry Jenkins (Moonlight).