Beasts first Netflix film for competition

Cary Fukunaga.
Cary Fukunaga.

The top prize at this year's Venice Film Festival could be handed to a film destined to barely see the inside of a cinema but which will be available to watch on laptops, tablets and mo- bile phones from Oct 16.

American film-maker Cary Fukunaga's Beasts Of No Nation is the first Netflix feature film to be included in competition for a major film prize.

That a video-on-demand service has been able to place its content in the world's oldest film festival is being seen as something of a landmark moment for an industry on the cusp of far-reaching change in the way its output is consumed.

Festival director Alberto Barbera said he did not hesitate about including Beasts in the line-up of films competing for the Golden Lion.

Streaming-based distribution services are becoming important sources of finance for film-making and "we can't ignore them", he argues.

Fukunaga spent more than a decade developing his project to make a film about child soldiers.

Idris Elba stars as an African warlord who uses boys as child soldiers.

Set in West Africa and shot in Ghana, it unflinchingly recounts the story of Agu, a boy who is forced to join a fighter unit and whose initiation into the battalion is completed when he obeys an order to hack a university student to death with repeated machete blows to his head.

Such scenes make Fukunaga's piece a testing view.

But it has been well received and he has won praise for raising an issue he has wanted to dramatise for over a decade.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 07, 2015, with the headline 'Beasts first Netflix film for competition Beasts first Netflix film for competition'. Print Edition | Subscribe