Elba, Fukunaga Subscribe for Netflix's 'Beasts of No Nation'

By Coyleap, Jake | Charleston Gazette Mail, October 13, 2015 | Go to article overview

Elba, Fukunaga Subscribe for Netflix's 'Beasts of No Nation'


Coyleap, Jake, Charleston Gazette Mail


TORONTO - The early conversations between director Cary Fukunaga and Idris Elba about their child soldier drama "Beasts of No Nation" began with, Elba says, the two discussing "the level of depth that he and I wouldn't mind plunging into." "There is a version of this film that's a lot more commercial and a lot easier for the audience, Elba said in an interview. "Cary didn't want to do that. I didn't want to do that.

"Beasts of No Nation is instead a brutal descent into war, as seen from a boy's perspective, and its commercial prospects are essentially already sewn up. The film, in which a West African boy (Abraham Attah, a nonprofessional 15-year-old from Ghana) is orphaned by war and enlisted into a rebel army led by Elba's Commandant, was acquired by Netflix to be its first original feature film.

When "Beasts of No Nation hits the service Friday, it will play in a limited theatrical run through indie distributor Bleecker Street. But most will see it at home, the first foot forward in Netflix's new initiative. The streaming service's foray into film has already sent shockwaves through Hollywood and drawn deals with the likes of Brad Pitt, Adam Sandler, Leonardo DiCaprio and Judd Apatow.

"Beasts of No Nation is a boldly uncompromising war drama that kicks off a bold new chapter in movie streaming.

"It's definitely not an easy film to watch, says Elba. "It's got balls."

"Beasts of No Nation also wasn't an easy film to make. Fukunaga, the 38-year-old filmmaker of the acclaimed first season of "True Detective, the Charlotte Bronte adaptation "Jane Eyre, and his immigrant drama debut "Sin Nombre, had wanted to make a film about child soldiers for more than a decade. It took form when he came across Uzodinma Iweala's 2006 novel of the same name.

Fukunaga insisted the film, made for $6.3 million (and bought by Netflix for $12 million), be shot in West Africa. He settled on Ghana, where no Hollywood movie had been made before.

"It was a tremendously complicated, problematic, unlucky production, says Fukunaga. "I can't believe we got through it.

Fukunaga and others got malaria. His camera operator pulled a hamstring, so Fukunaga filled in. When they were needed, extras would refuse to show up without more money. Military equipment - necessary guns and vehicles - arrived unpredictably. The crew had no weather forecasts, so they didn't know when rain was going to last for 20 minutes or all day. Elba got the flu. Not far away, Ebola was breaking out. …

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