Two Stories, two battles, one nation of survivalists: The contrast of Oscar nominees and Sundance film festival Triumphs.

Skylar Richardson

Award season is by far the most crucial in defining true cinema and art and yet so much fantastic films still go unnoticed by the controversial Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences every year.

The films that are most widely nominated for Best Picture are the films that cumbersome amounts of tickets at the box offices and they typically have famous movie actors that are recognizable around the world


Although, America and the rest of the world worships these films (the Oscars is shown is over 200 countries), there is a still a whole other world of film that is being experimented with and shown at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, during the month of January.

The Sundance Film Festival has been screening various American independent and international films since 1985. The festival has gained popularity and simultaneously enhanced the interest in more than just Hollywood Films, but it also been the starting place for several big name writers and directors such as the Coen Brothers and Quentin Tarantino.

The leading films this year at the Sundance Film Festival are of the following, The Birth of a Nation, Swiss Army Man, Morris From America, Kate Plays Christine, Lovesong, Between Sea and Land, and Sonita just to name a few.

The winner of the U.S. Grand Jury Prize for the Dramatic category at Sundance is Birth of a Nation, which is directed, acted, and written by Nate Parker who is very passionate about the story of a literate slave and preacher, Nathaniel “Nat” Turner.

Playing the main character, Nat Turner, Parker embodies this amazing and brave man who lead the slave rebellion of Southhampton County, Virginia only to be found, convicted and then hanged to his death.

The movie depicts his rebellion to lead the blacks of Southhampton County, Virginia to freedom, but also revenge on the white slave owners who tortured them. The rebellions had their revenge by stealing their weapons and horses and “freeing” other slaves along the journey.

What’s particularly interesting about Birth of a Nation is the fact that it was previously a film directed by D.W. Griffith who used the film to arouse the Ku Klux Klan in 1915. This propaganda stunt was very successful because the population of the KKK grew in the early 20th century.

The Birth of a Nation (1915) is a silent film, which tells the dramatized story of the founding of the KKK.

The Birth of a Nation (1915) is claimed to be one the most controversial films American films of all time. Although, President Woodrow Wilson approved the showing of the film at the White House, the first major motion picture screening at the White House.

Now, in modern day the original story of The Birth of a Nation is being put to rest, but the name itself is being resurrected and given a new meaning- the meaning of bravery and sought for freedom amongst the suppressed slaves of the 19th century and on.


The Birth of a Nation will be in select theaters in the U.S. starting October 7, 2016.

Similarly to The Birth of a Nation, The Revenant is one of the most highly anticipated films of the year solely based on the award winning cast and the pivotal, survival stories of the untraveled North American West.

The Revenant is directed by Alejandro G. Iñárritu and is nominated for 12 Academy Awards.

Among The Revenant, the other film nominated for Best Picture by the Academy is The Big Short, The Bridge of Spies, Brooklyn, Mad Max, Bring Home the Martian, Room, and Spotlight.

Historically set only a few years apart, the movies The Birth of a Nation and The Revenant, each portray stories of bravery, betrayment, and what it means to be apart of the events that define America’s biography- especially the darker times of the country’s past.

Leonardo DiCaprio, plays Hugh Glass a frontiersman on fur trading expedition through the cold, bitter winter who is left to fend for himself when his fellow huntsman abandon him.

Glass he is eventually brutally attacked by a grizzly bear and left with wounds and dismemberment- the rest would be a spoiler if continued.

Conclusively, these two different yet parallel stories tell heroic tales that are inspired by true events of these valiant men. The Revenant made 38,000,000 million dollars in it’s opening weekend in the U.S. according to, however The Birth of a Nation is still just as relevant and artistically brilliant, therefore it should not be undermined or forgotten only because it is an independent film.

I encourage film lovers to expand their horizons and research independent and international films because they can be just at visually, thematically, and emotionally influential in their pursuit to make the audience think and be hooked by the plot.

To learn more about upcoming independent films and the Sundance Film Festival and how you can get involved, visit the website and follow the Sundance Institute on Instagram and Twitter for news and updates.

Till then, tune into the Oscars and or the Academy Awards hosted by Chris Rock on Sunday, February 28, 2016 at 8:30 ET and 5:30 PT on ABC.

May the best film win.

Collegian Reporter Skylar Richardson can be reached at