Parker filled with sorrow over rape accuser's suicide
EIGHT months ago, director Nate Parker's movie The Birth Of A Nation was already being acclaimed as a 2017 Oscar front-runner with its powerful story of a 19th century slave rebellion.
This week, less than a month before the movie's award season campaign gets under way, Parker, acquitted of a rape charge 17 years ago, is having to address the issue again after reports that his accuser committed suicide in 2012.
On Tuesday, the 36-year-old said he was devastated to learn recently that his female accuser had taken her own life at 30.
Movie studio Fox Searchlight says it is standing by the movie, which will get its international premiere at the Toronto Film Festival next month.
The victim has not been named but her brother told Hollywood trade paper Variety this week that she was haunted by the incident that took place while she and Parker were at Penn State university in 1999.
"Over the last several days, a part of my past - my arrest, trial and acquittal on charges of sexual assault - has become a focal point for media coverage, social media speculation and industry conversation," Parker wrote on Facebook on Tuesday.
"I myself just learnt that the young woman ended her own life several years ago and I am filled with profound sorrow," he added, noting that he is now married and has five daughters.
Fox bought the rights to The Birth Of A Nation at the Sundance Film Festival in January for a record US$17.5 million (S$23.5 million).
Parker, previously little known in Hollywood, wrote, directed and stars in the film about Nat Turner, who led a slave rebellion in 1831.
Trade publication The Wrap reported on Wednesday that several fake posters for the movie had appeared in Los Angeles with the word "rapist" under the face of Parker's character.
Fox said it "is aware of the incident that occurred while Nate Parker was at Penn State".
The Birth Of A Nation is scheduled to open in the United States on Oct 7. Oscar nominations are announced on Jan 24.