This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Actor-filmmaker Nate Parker received an award from the Sundance Institute on Thursday night, and gave something important back.

Parker —┬áthe star, director and writer of the upcoming drama "The Birth of a Nation" — announced the creation of the Sundance Institute | "The Birth of a Nation" Fellowship, to support young filmmakers of color.

Parker — accompanied by members of the movie's cast and its producers, who contributed to the fellowship — made the announcement at the Sundance Institute's Night Before Next gala in Los Angeles. The gala, presented by Acura, was a fund-raiser designed to kick off Sundance's Next Fest, which runs today through Sunday and screens movies from this year's Sundance Film Festival to L.A. audiences.

Parker was there to pick up Sundance's Vanguard Award, given to him by actor and fellow Sundance alum Michael B. Jordan ("Fruitvale Station," "Creed").

The fellowship will support a young filmmaker of color each year for the next five years. The filmmakers will be selected from the institute's Ignite program, which provides year-round mentorship and industry experience to artists 18 to 24 years old.

Parker and producer Jason Michael Berman said they were inspired by the program after meeting Ignite fellows in Park City at this year's Sundance Film Festival — where "The Birth of a Nation" premiered, and won the Audience Award and Grand Jury Prize.

"The support I received from the Institute in developing 'The Birth of a Nation' echoed the critical importance of mentoring independent storytellers," Parker said. "I am honored to sow back into the Institute in alignment with their mission to support talented young artists with stories to tell."

Keri Putnam, the institute's executive director, thanked Parker, Berman and the "Birth of a Nation" team for their support. "Their gift embodies the generosity of spirit and mentorship at the core of our initiatives," Putnam said. "They know our programs intimately, and know exactly how this gift will enable our work in honing and amplifying the next generation of artistic talent."

"The Birth of a Nation," a labor of love Parker nurtured for seven years, shows the rise of Nat Turner (played by Parker), a slave in antebellum Virginia who went from preaching the gospel to leading a rebellion against slaveowners. The movie opens nationwide Oct. 7, and is considered a frontrunner in this year's Academy Awards race.