In this exclusive new featurette, “Beasts of No Nation” director Cary Joji Fukunaga, Golden Globe-nominated star Idris Elba, and the film’s producers explain how they transformed Uzodinma Iweala’s novel about a child soldier in West Africa into an honest, realistic cinematic portrait. The film, which Netflix picked up for $12 million, also received nominations for Best Ensemble and Best Supporting Actor Elba from SAG, and five Indie Spirit nominations: Best Feature, Best Director, Best Supporting Male, Best Male Lead (child actor Abraham Attah) and Best Cinematography (Fukunaga).
As Fukunaga notes, he pushed himself to traverse new terrain in “Beasts of No Nation”: “I wanted to try things I hadn’t tried before, in terms of shutter angles and handheld work, to give me the aesthetic that I wanted,” he says. He also pushed his producers not to stint when it came to shooting on location in West Africa—where the lush surrounds and vibrant colors provided the palette for the film’s distinctive appearance. “In this film, we wanted to feel the texture of the world,” Fukunaga says. “That was just how I saw it playing in my head.”