Discredited director’s comeback movie gets under skin 

The film screened at the Venice Film Festival. (Supplied) 
Updated 11 September 2019

Discredited director’s comeback movie gets under skin 

VENICE: American actor Nate Parker made a huge impact with his 2016 directorial debut, “The Birth of a Nation,” screened at the Sundance Film Festival.

He also acted in it – a period drama set in 1831 about a slave rebellion led by Nat Turner in Southampton County, Virginia.

The movie, bought for a record $17.5 million (SR66 million), would have had excellent Oscar prospects, but a 1999 rape allegation against Parker, when he was a student at the Penn State University, resurfaced and ruined him. Though he was found not guilty, the suicide of the accuser did not sit well with public opinion.

So, when his latest work, “American Skin,” was picked by the Venice Film Festival, the event’s director, Alberto Barbera, came under heavy fire. But he refused to be cowed, stating in no uncertain terms that he was there not to judge the man, but his work.

Backed by the legendary US film director Spike Lee, “American Skin” has been touted as Parker’s comeback movie. It may or may not be so, but it needs to be seen.

“American Skin” is Nate Parker's latest moive. (Supplied)

A power-packed, gripping piece based on a true incident, “American Skin” traces the unbearable pain of a mother and father who lost their 14-year-old son in a police shooting.

The film certainly provokes debate. Are African Americans in the US still shabbily treated, especially by the police? Does justice elude them more often than not?

Created with meticulous details, “American Skin” recreates the fateful night in Los Angeles where Lincoln Jefferson (Parker) is driving his son home. Cops stop him for speeding and when they find the car insurance has expired, Jefferson is asked to step out. He knows the drill well, having served as an American Marine in Iraq. Sensing trouble, the boy takes out his mobile phone but in a split-second confusion, he is shot dead.

A year later, Mike Randall (Beau Knapp), the white policeman who pulled the trigger, walks free and is reinstated. A livid Jefferson decides to take the law in his own hands, and the movie flies toward a pulse-pounding finish.

Great performances are seen throughout: Parker conveys distress and disappointment with admirable dignity, while Knapp displays arrogance backed by a uniform, but later relents to show remorse and regret.

“American Skin” must be judged by what it offers on the screen, and not by the biases some may hold against its director.

Restoration begins of more King Ramses II statues at Luxor Temple

Updated 20 min 13 sec ago

Restoration begins of more King Ramses II statues at Luxor Temple

  • The remains and blocks of these statues were discovered between 1958 and 1961 during the excavations of the archaeologist Dr. Mohamed Abdel-Kader.

CAIRO: Egypt has begun a new international project in Luxor with the collection, restoration and reinstallation of two statues of King Ramses II.

The plan follows the restoration and assembly during the past three years of three statues of the ruler at Luxor Temple.

During his recent visit to Luxor, Egyptian Minister of Antiquities Khaled Al-Anani gave the green light for the restoration of two more statues of the pharaonic king at the western side of the temple.

Ahmed Arabi, managing director of the temple, said the statues belong to the 19th Dynasty and are made from red granite.

The remains and blocks of these statues were discovered between 1958 and 1961 during the excavations of the archaeologist Dr. Mohamed Abdel-Kader.

The statues, which fell apart years ago, have raised controversy after their restoration. This arises from the fact that one of the recently restored statues stands in the Osirian position, the “death position” of the ancient Egyptians, in which the statue’s feet are equal. That runs contrary to the tradition followed in all Egyptian temples, which is not to put the statues of kings in this position.

Director of the temple Ahmed Arabi said that his department had presented the idea of restoring the three statues. “We recently found pieces of the two other statues of Ramses II in the western facade of the temple. They will also be installed in the same place where they were found.” 

Arabi said that the statues will be renovated in cooperation with the Egyptian archaeological mission led by Dr. Mustafa Waziri, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, under the supervision of Ahmed Badr El-Din, of Luxor Temple, and the Chicago Institute of Oriental Archaeology headed by Dr. Ray Johnson. Work has already begun by studying the two statues, assembling their blocks, and documenting and photographing them. Each statue is seven meters high, again in the Osirian position.

Dr. Waziri confirmed that the two new statues have been placed next to the other statues in preparation for restoration, pointing out that there is writing on one of the pieces bearing the name Ramses II. The pieces include the upper half of a statue, two parts from the shoulders overlapping each other, the dress and the statues’ necks. It also has parts of the face.

King Ramses II is one of the most famous monarchs of ancient Egypt, ruling from 1279 to 1213 BC.