Written and directed by Cary Fukunaga, the film is based on Uzodinma Iweala’s novel of the same name. It tells the story of a young boy named Agu (Attah), whose family is torn apart after his father is killed during a civil war. When he’s found by mercenary fighters led by Elba’s character, known simply as Commandant, he’s forced to join their ranks.
In the trailer, we see Attah struggle with the transition from child to soldier. Commandant seems to manipulate his loyalty, making pointed comments like, “I saved your life,” and “I will always protect you because you are my son — and a son always protects [his] father.” Elba’s character also manipulates the rest of the group by focusing on what they’ve lost. “All of you that have seen your family killed, you now have something that stands for you,” he tells them.
The film has the theater release it needs to potentially be part of the Oscar race this year — that, in spite of all major theaters boycotting Beasts of No Nation because it will be available for streaming on the same day that it hits theaters. Smaller indie-chain Landmark Theaters decided to give it a limited release, as will Alamo Drafthouse out of Texas. The film has already been screened at the Venice International Film Festival and will be shown in mid-September during the Toronto Film Festival.
Beasts of No Nation opens in select theaters on Oct. 16, the same day it will be available on Netflix.