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Netflix has acquired rights to The Square, marking the first major acquisition for its original documentary initiative.
The documentary, directed by Jehane Noujaim (Control Room), looks at the protests in Tahrir Square amid the political upheaval that has been ongoing in Egypt over the past two years.
The title is considered a leading contender for this year’s best documentary feature Oscar. It premiered in January at Sundance, where it nabbed the World Cinema audience award for a documentary. It also picked up the People’s Choice documentary award in Toronto and screened last month at the New York Film Festival.
The film will make its online debut on Netflix, in all territories where the service is available, in early 2014.
“We are thrilled to be presenting an amazing film that brings to life in such a deeply human way one of the most important events of our time,” said Lisa Nishimura, Netflix vp original documentary programming. “The Square is documentary filmmaking at the highest level — a beautifully constructed chronicle of brave people struggling against insurmountable odds to make their country a much better place. One knows that history is unfolding on the screen before you when watching The Square.“
Noujaim continued, “Our dream for The Square is to inspire the hearts of as many people as possible, and by working with Netflix, we can ensure the film reaches a wide and diverse audience. Nothing about the making of this film has followed the norms, and that’s what makes it exciting. It is crucial for us as filmmakers, who have shot a documentary about people risking and losing their lives for their beliefs, to create a spirit of possibility.”
Added producer Karim Amer: “We see the deep value that Netflix places in this story of a very alive moment in world history and are thrilled they understand the power of this film to move, disrupt and inspire audiences worldwide.”
At Sundance, THR‘s reviewer, James Greenberg, deemed the title “a riveting firsthand account of the Egyptian revolution presented with remarkable immediacy and filmmaking skill.”
The film, which opened in an exclusive release Oct. 25 at New York City’s Film Forum and expand to the Sundance Sunset Cinema in Los Angeles this past weekend, has grossed an estimated $32,700 to date.
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Robert De Niro