Mired in controversy, hotly debated on moral grounds and plagued by mixed reactions since its early screenings on the film-festival circuit in Sundance, Toronto and elsewhere, Nate Parker’s violent, viscerally alarming film Birth of a Nation is finally emerging from under a media microscope and lodging its ascent into the American cultural landscape this week. The film tells the true story of Nat Turner, a slave in antebellum Virginia who led a black rebellion in 1831 and guided an uprising of human carnage against white plantation owners that resulted in the loss of 65 whites. It was squashed in two days, but the repercussions lasted for months and signaled a new era of fear, intolerance and moral decay that led to war and reform. Hence the title Birth of a Nation. In the hysteria that engulfed the South, nearly 200 slaves were massacred in retaliation. Turner hid out for two months before a white militia captured him. The movie catalogues events up to a point. It spares the audience the horrors of Turner’s death, when he was flayed, skinned alive, beheaded and drawn and quartered into strip steaks for all to see. So it’s less bloody and gruesome than 12 Years a Slave. But make no mistake about it; the legion of protestors with no plans to see Birth of a Nation is growing.