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Netflix Acquires Arab Spring Doc

4 Nov, 2013 By: Erik Gruenwedel

The streaming pioneer’s foray into original documentaries includes the acquisition of ‘The Square,’ showcasing the Egyptian protest movement of 2011

Netflix Nov. 4 said it has acquired the rights to documentary The Square — a front-line look at the events in Egypt in 2011, including protests in Tahrir Square that led to the overthrow of military leader Hosni Mubarak, through the ousting of Mohammed Morsi this year by the military.

Winner of this year's Toronto International Film Festival Documentary People's Choice Award, The Square will stream throughout all Netflix territories in early 2014. The film was also an Official Selection at the 2013 New York Film Festival.

The doc from director-producer Jehane Noujaim (Control Room, Startup.com, Rafea: Solar Mama) and producer Karim Amer (Rafea: Solar Mama), represents Netflix’s first acquisition for its nascent Original Documentary platform.

The Square offers a kaleidoscopic portrait of the events as they unfolded before Magdy, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood (whose leader is Morsi), Khalid Abdalla, an Egyptian actor who played the lead in The Kite Runner, and Ahmed, whose poetic storytelling carries the narrative. 

“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," Noujaim said in a statement.

"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," Amer added.

Lisa Nishimura, VP of original documentary programming at Netflix, said The Square represents documentary filmmaking at the highest level.

“One knows that history is unfolding on the screen before you when watching The Square,” Nishimura said.

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