News

Oscar Talk Stirs Up For Idris Elba War Drama 'Beasts Of No Nation' After $12 Million Netflix Acquisition

Oscar talk is stirring up for the forthcoming Idris Elba war drama 'Beasts Of No Nation' after it was acquired by Netflix for $12 million.


After a recent Netflix acquisition, Oscar talk is stirring up for Emmy Award-winning True Detective director Cara Fukunaga's forthcoming Idris Elba-starring film adaptation of Beasts Of No Nation. According to Deadline, Netflix is expected to pay up to $12 million for global streaming and theatrical release rights to the film, which Fukunaga and Elba shot last summer in Ghana. With the streaming company outbidding major studios for the distribution rights to the $6 million production, Beasts is poised to be a major contender come Oscar season. In order to be considered for the film industry's top honors, Netflix must first distribute the film in theaters before making it available to stream online. Congolese environmental documentary Virunga, another of Netflix's recent acquisitions, was recognized with a 2014 Academy Award nomination for Best Documentary after a similar rollout this past November.

The film's script, penned by Fukunaga, is an adaptation of Nigerian writer and Ventures Africa editor-in-chief Uzodinma Iweala’s critically acclaimed debut novel. Published in 2005, Iweala's Beasts of No Nation (which takes its name from the 1989 record from Fela Kuti) presents a first person narrative account of a young boy named Agu (portrayed in the film by Abraham Attah) who is forced to join a unit of mercenary fighters when civil war engulfs his (unnamed) West African country. Elba portrays the brutal Commandant who recruits Agu, and will also serve as producer on the project in conjunction with Red Crown Productions. A release date has not yet been announced.

Update: March 4

Following the news yesterday that Netflix had acquired Beasts Of Nation for $12 million and plans to release the film in theaters and streaming services simultaneously, America's major theater chains plan to boycott Beasts Of No Nation. Variety reports that AMC, Regal, Cinemark and Carmike do not plan to show the film because of its failure to honor the traditional 90-day delay between a theatrical debut and the film becoming available on home entertainment. Variety also reports that though it won't see a major theatrical release, Beasts could get exhibited at roughly 200 to 250 arthouse and independent theaters. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will require Netflix to show the film in cinemas in 2015 in order for it to be eligible for the 2016 Oscars.

Music
Photo by Don Paulsen/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Hugh Masekela's New York City Legacy

A look back at the South African legend's time in New York City and his enduring presence in the Big Apple.

In Questlove's magnificent documentary, Summer of Soul, he captures a forgotten part of Black American music history. But in telling the tale of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, the longtime musician and first-time filmmaker also captures a part of lost South African music history too.

Among the line-up of blossoming all-stars who played the Harlem festival, from a 19-year-old Stevie Wonder to a transcendent Mavis Staples, was a young Hugh Masekela. 30 years old at the time, he was riding the wave of success that came from releasing Grazing in the Grass the year before. To watch Masekela in that moment on that stage is to see him at the height of his time in New York City — a firecracker musician who entertained his audiences as much as he educated them about the political situation in his home country of South Africa.

The legacy Masekela sowed in New York City during the 1960s remains in the walls of the venues where he played, and in the dust of those that are no longer standing. It's in the records he made in studios and jazz clubs, and on the Manhattan streets where he once posed with a giant stuffed zebra for an album cover. It's a legacy that still lives on in tangible form, too, in the Hugh Masekela Heritage Scholarship at the Manhattan School of Music.

The school is the place where Masekela received his education and met some of the people that would go on to be life-long bandmates and friends, from Larry Willis (who, as the story goes, Masekela convinced to give up opera for piano) to Morris Goldberg, Herbie Hancock and Stewart Levine, "his brother and musical compadre," as Mabusha Masekela, Bra Hugh's nephew says.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox

popular.