Director Garrett Bradley, who garnered attention last year for her Oscar-nominated documentary Time, is set to direct Parable of the Sower. The film is an adaptation of the 1993 Octavia E. Butler sci-fi novel of the same name, about a fifteen-year-old with Hyper-Empathy Syndrome.
Bringing Butler’s Work to Life
According to Deadline, Bradley will direct the adaptation of Butler’s novel for indie powerhouse A24. While Bradley has become best known for her documentary work on Time and the three-part Naomi Osaka series for Netflix, she has plenty of experience in translating fiction to the screen. Her feature debut, Below Dreams, earned acclaim for its fresh look on Millennial angst in 2014. She also directed an episode of the Ava DuVernay OWN drama, Queen Sugar. Her careful work on documentaries plus her skill as a storyteller make Bradley a perfect pick to adapt Butler’s novel, which digs deep into social issues.
Parable of the Sower is the first book in a planned trilogy, though Butler only finished the first two books before she died in 2006. The story feels almost too prescient, about a world where global climate change and economic strife lead to societal chaos.
Fifteen-year-old Lauren Olamina lives inside a gated community with her preacher father, her family, and some lucky neighbors, all sheltered from the chaos outside. Lauren has a condition called hyper-empathy, or “sharing”, where she uncontrollably feels the emotions she sees happening in others. In a world where any deviation can be seen as dangerous, Lauren must fight to keep her community safe from the imminent disasters they choose to ignore. Along the way, she discovers the power within herself to create a new faith and way of living that she hopes can lead humanity to better days.
Butler’s work is monumental and deserves more attention, so I’m thrilled to see this kind of high-profile adaptation on the way. An FX series based on her fiercely popular 1979 novel, Kindred, is also in the works. Butler’s ability to dissect difficult themes while also telling a compelling story is nearly unmatched, but her willingness to face those themes head-on has probably kept some of these adaptations from being made. Thankfully, studios like A24 are willing to take risks and tell stories from marginalized voices. Hopefully, these new adaptations will help introduce a new generation to Butler’s novels, and maybe get some of her other stories on the big and small screens.
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