Parker immediately expressed "profound sorrow" when he heard about her death, and has added that he was "devastated" by the news. Now that the film is coming into cinemas, he is finally prepared to speak openly on the painful topic, appearing on 60 Minutes this week and granting an interview to Variety. As he explains: "Seventeen years ago, I experienced a very painful moment in my life. It resulted in it being litigated. I was cleared of it. That's that. Seventeen years later, I'm a filmmaker. I have a family. I have five beautiful daughters. I have a lovely wife. I get it. The reality is, I can't relive 17 years ago. All I can do is be the best man I can be now.

Nate Parker plays Nat Turner in The Birth Of A NationNate Parker plays Nat Turner in The Birth Of A Nation

"I do think it's tragic, so much of what's happened. And the fact that the family's had to endure with respect to this woman not being here. But I also think that - and I don't want to harp on this and I don't want to be disrespectful of them at all - but at some point I have to say it: I was falsely accused. You know, I went to court. And I sat in trial. You know, I was vindicated. I was proven innocent."

He also says that this situation speaks to the central theme of The Birth of a Nation, which traces a slave uprising in the American South just before the Civil War. "If you have injustice, this is your movie," he says. "Americans suffers from post-traumatic stress syndrome from a time that we refuse to address. Healing only comes from honest confrontation. Any psychologist will tell you that."

And when he was preparing to make the movie, he consulted with someone who knows something about the topic. "I reached out to Mel Gibson," Parker says. "Maybe three months later, I get a phone call: 'Nate, it's Mel.' 'Mel who?' I took maybe 30 pages of notes. His best advice was don't work on Sunday. He said, 'You need a day off if you're going to direct yourself. You need time for recovery and reflection, just sitting, drinking tea.' That's exactly what I did. On Sunday, I would go into a dark room and drink tea."

Watch the trailer for The Birth Of A Nation: