PODCAST: CARY FUKUNAGA & ABRAHAM ATTAH ON BEASTS OF NO NATION

Abraham Attah & Cary Fukunaga

Abraham Attah & Cary Fukunaga

Filmmaker Cary Fukunaga’s new film, Beasts of No Nation, releases today in theatres and on Netflix.This is the first time that a feature film is releasing simultaneously in theatres and streaming  online. With this film could Los Gatos-based Netflix became a key player in the film industry?

We spoke to Fukunaga and Abraham Attah, the young actor who makes his debut in Beasts of No Nation in San Francisco. They were here to attend the 38th Mill Valley Film Festival.

As usual I had lot of questions, wich I had to pare down to a few key questions. How was Attah selected for the film? What drew Fukunaga to make this film? What was it like to shoot the film in Ghana? Did Attah get a chance to rap with Idris Elba? Was he surprised at winning an award at the recent Venice Film Festival? How did Fukunaga develop the cadence and rhythm for Elba’s character? And we asked him about Sam Pekinpah’s influence. Of course, we had to ask Fukunaga about the Netflix deal and what it means to the future of films, especially when it comes to distribution in theaters. Will Netflix’s involvement in feature films alter the game? Tune into the interview and find out what Fukunaga and Attah have to say about Beasts of No Nation.

LISTEN: CARY FUKUNAGA AND ABRAHAM ATTAH ON BEASTS OF NO NATION

Beasts of No Nation is based on Uzodino Iwaela’s novel by the same name. Set in an unamed West African nation, the film traces the journey of a young innocent boy to a life of war and brutality. When Agu (Attah) suffers the violent loss of his family in the ongoing civil war, he is left without any family moorings. While hiding in the jungle he stumbles upon a group of child soldiers and finds himself inexorably drawn into the group. He is initiated as a child soldier under the charismatic and brutal leadership of the Commandant (Idris Elba). As part of this small and tight group of child and teenage soldiers, Agu finds himself perpetrating the very violence from which he had tried to escape. How Agu survive the ordeal and what happens to him is what the picture is about.

 

 

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VIDEO: IDRIS ELBA ON HOLLYWOOD, BOLLYWOOD AND BHANGRA

Is Bollywood listening? Idris Elba is open to working in Bollywood films as he tells us in this interview we recorded in 2010. Fast forward to 2015 and Elba is a sought after actor and has garnered praise for his work on the small and big screen. Right now the buzz is around his role as the charismatic and powerful Commandant in Cary Fukunaga’s Beasts of No Nation. Set in an unidentified West African nation the film takes you into the world of civil war and child soldiers in Africa. The film is based on a book by the same name written by Uzodinma Iweala. Beasts of No Nation releases in theatres and Netflix on Oct 16, 2015.

 

MY 5 PICKS FOR MILL VALLEY FILM FESTIVAL OCT 8-18, 2015

MVFF38

MVFF38

The 38th Mill Valley Film Festival (MVFF)  is currently underway and runs from Oct 8-18, 2015. This year’s festival seems to highlight the gender gap and features quite a few films where women play a central role. The films with strong female characters include I Smile Back, Room, Suffragette, Miss You Already, Light Beneath Her Feet and Code: Debugging The Gender Gap among others. For ticket and information check out MVFF’s website.

The opening night films were Tom Hooper’s The Danish Girl and Tom McCarthy’s Spotlight. I have an interview with McCarthy coming up.

I watched a few of the films, and will be watching some more in the coming week. This list is by no means an exhaustive one and precludes quite a few good films that I have not had a chance to see. For example, Jacques Audiard’s Dheepan is not in this list. Now, this is a film that I missed watching and plan to watch it later this month.

So, here are my 5 picks from the 38th Mill Valley Film Festival in a random order.

McCarthy’s Spotlight looks at the massive cover-up of the sexual abuse by the Catholic church in Boston. In 2003 the Boston Globe published a series of investigative reports on how the church for decades had skillfully covered up the sexual abuse of children by the Catholic priests. This important local story took years to uncover even though there were people in the know and were aware of the abuse. Why then did it take so long to report the story? The film stars Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, Lieve Schreiber and others.

Director Lenny Abrahamson’s Room is an engrossing tale of a mother and son locked up in a room for years. And then suddenly they are rescued from their confinement and set free. The challenge that the duo struggle is how to adjust to their new way of life in a free world? You will have to see the film to find out how mother and son were imprisioned in a room for so many years. Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay give a strong and convincing performance in the film.

Iranian filmmaker Jaffer Panahi’s Taxi is an evocative and subtle film that shows you what life is like in Teheran. Banned from making films Panahi  stars and directs this film that addresses lot of questions like woman’s rights, creative freedom and films. It is the bit about films that is very interesting and poignant and highlights how people find away to get to see the films and TV shows that are banned. Ironically that includes Panahi himself.

The next two films on my list are Sarah Gavron’s Suffragette and Cary Fukunaga’s Beasts of No Nation, which I will be watching later this week.

Suffragette is about how a group of ordinary women in England fought for their right to vote nearly 75 years ago. The film stars Carey Mulligan, Hannah Bonham Carter, Brendan Gleeson and Meryl Streep.

Cary Fukunaga’s new film Beasts of No Nation is based on Uzodinma Iweala’s book by the same name. Fukunaga wrote and directed the film that is set in an unnamed war-torn African country. This is a story of how a young boy becomes a boy soldier under a mercenary commandant.  Idris Elba plays the mercenary commandant and Abraham Attah makes his debut as the boy soldier. Netflix acquired the distribution rights for the film, and it will release it online and in theatres on October 16, 2015.