By the time Nate Parker’s The Birth of a Nation is released in theaters this Friday, it has already run through a lifetime in movie years. Starting out, it earned a rousing applause at the Sundance film festival, winning the Grand Jury Prize and selling for a whopping $17.5 million to Fox Searchlight. What followed was the controversial reveal of Parker’s past, where he was accused of rape during his time at Penn State University. The director/actor was cleared of these charges, but what followed was backlash, then some more faint applause at TIFF, and more arguments of the film being buried before Oscar season. After all of these damaging issues, The Birth of a Nation does tell the important life story of rebellious slave Nat Turner. It does not, however, live up to the hype in terms of a great piece of cinema. Separating the controversy from the art, there is a powerful message that mixes the past with today’s state of race relations, but it is obvious that this was Nate Parker’s first attempt in the directors chair.