37th Annual VIRGINIA FILM FESTIVAL Oct 30-Nov 3, 2024

37th Annual VIRGINIA FILM FESTIVAL October 30-November 3, 2024

The Birth of a Nation

Birth of a Nation FINAL Image

A century after its debut, Griffith’s groundbreaking film remains one of the most important works in American cinema, and perhaps the most controversial film in U.S. history. The three-hour silent epic was based on the novel and play The Clansman. The film depicts a South Carolina town before and after the Civil War, blatantly glorifies slavery, and depicts black people in such an unrelentingly brutal way that it has been used as a recruitment tool by the Ku Klux Klan. The film’s enduring controversy is often contrasted by the critical praise for its historic cinematic achievements, which are credited with changing the art form forever.

This screening has been organized by the Miller Center, with input and counsel from the UVA Black Student Alliance, SEEDS for Change (another African-American student group), faculty members in UVA’s Corcoran Department of History, and the Carter Woodson Institute, and after consultations with UVA Office of Diversity and the Charlottesville chapter of the NAACP (Rick Turner).

Discussion with Doug Blackmon (U.Va.), Liz Varon (U.Va.), and Aryn Frazier (Black Student Alliance President)

Supported by the Miller Center, the Carter G. Woodson Institute for African-American and African Studies, and the Library of Congress

Please be aware that that the subject matter of this film is legendarily insensitive and offensive around the issue of race. The screening of this film in no way represents an endorsement of the film or its subject matter. Rather, it represents an opportunity to bring together world-renowned experts to do what we are uniquely qualified to do as one of our nation’s only university-affiliated regional film festivals – to create a conversation around the film’s historical context and lingering relevance in the increasingly racially-charged climate in which we live today.


Thursday, November 5


3:00 PM


UVA : Culbreth Theatre

Film Info

Director: D. W. Griffith

Runtime: 195 min.

Genre: Classics

Year: 1915

Country: USA

Featuring: Lillian Gish, Mae Marsh, Henry B. Walthall, Miriam Cooper, Ralph Lewis