Director Cary Joji Fukunaga, writer Uzodinma Iweala and first-time actor Abraham Attah discuss Beasts of No Nation (2015), a film centred on an orphaned boy who is forced into a guerrilla group. Fukunaga discusses the production challenges of filming in West Africa, while Attah explains how football brought him closer to star and co-actor Idris Elba.
The 59th BFI London Film Festival in partnership with American Express® runs from Wednesday 7 October-Sunday 18 October 2015. Get immersed in the best of the world’s new cinema in venues and events across London, featuring the stars and creators of the films!
The Festival opened with “Suffragette” (starring Carey Mulligan, Helena Bonham Carter and Meryl Streep), and has closed with Steve Jobs (starring Michael Fassbender).
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Cary Fukunaga’s (True Detective, Jane Eyre, Sin Nombre) unflinching adaptation of Uzodinma Iweala’s 2005 novel of the same name (itself borrowed from Fela Kuti’s 1989 album) is at once enthralling cinema and a gut-wrenching indictment of child exploitation. In an unnamed African country, civil conflict rips through the village where Agu, a sparky young boy, lives with his family. Witnessing unspeakable atrocities, including the brutal execution of his father and older brother, Agu is forced to run for his life. He is discovered, dazed and traumatised, by a group of rebel soldiers and is swiftly incorporated into their ranks by a fierce mercenary. The Commandant (Idris Elba), who receives his own orders from afar and for an unknown purpose keeps his militia fuelled with a heady mix of intoxicating bravado and hard drugs, maintains control through psychological and physical abuse. Rapidly adapting in order to survive, Agu is pushed to unthinkable limits. Idris Elba is charismatic and terrifying as the unhinged Commandant and newcomer Abraham Attah is a revelation as Agu, delivering a performance that (like his character) carries a weight beyond his years. Whilst deeply true to its African subject, the film resonates darkly beyond its situation, serving as a harsh reminder of childhoods destroyed in war zones and deprived urban areas everywhere.