Netflix, the world’s leading Internet TV network, has acquired the rights to Grain Media’s acclaimed documentary Virunga, an extraordinary look inside the battle for the heart of the Congo.
The film follows an embattled team of park rangers at Virunga National Park, home to the last of the planet’s 800 mountain gorillas, as they work to fend off encroaching forces of industry, poaching, corruption and war. The award-winning film debuted at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival, earning a nomination as Best Documentary Feature, and was named Audience Favorite at Hot Docs Film Festival and Best of Fest at AFI Docs, among other awards. Virunga will premiere exclusively on Netflix in 2014, available to stream in all territories where Netflix is available.
For his first feature-length documentary, director Orlando von Einsiedel travelled to the forested depths of eastern Congo’s Virunga National Park, one of the most bio-diverse places in the world. In this wild but enchanted environment, he encountered a small team of park rangers – including an ex-child soldier turned ranger, a caretaker of orphan gorillas and a dedicated conservationist who’s a member of the Belgian royal family – who work to protect this UNESCO world heritage site from armed militia, poachers, and the dark forces struggling to control Congo’s rich natural resources. When the M23 rebel group declared war in May 2012, a new conflict threatened the lives and stability of everyone and everything they worked so hard to protect, with the filmmakers and the film’s participants caught in the crossfire. Virunga joins previously announced acquisitions Mission Blue, E-Team and Print the Legend on Netflix’s upcoming slate of feature documentaries.
“Combining compelling filmmaking with a captivating real-life subject, Virunga will have viewers on the edge of their seats from its very first frame”, said Lisa Nishimura, Netflix VP of Original Documentary and Comedy. “Orlando has crafted a film of rare and raw beauty, an artful and thought-provoking documentary that demands to be seen around the globe. Virunga is a perfect fit for our Netflix original documentary slate”.
“Over two years ago I was drawn to the Virunga National Park to follow the work of an exceptional team of rangers risking their lives to try and better their country after 20 years of war. I found their hope inspiring and infectious. But, when I arrived, I honestly had no idea quite how stacked against them the odds were”, said von Einsiedel. “What is happening in the Virunga National Park is an urgent story that every one of us should know about. It’s a story that will profoundly affect us all in years to come and speaks about what sort of world we want our children and grandchildren to grow up in. Netflix’s global reach is second to none and so it was the obvious platform for us to share with the world the story of the park’s brave rangers and their David and Goliath battle”.
Virunga was directed by Orlando von Einsiedel and produced by Orlando von Einsiedel and Joanna Natasegara. Executive producers are Howard G. Buffett, Grain Media founder Jon Drever, and Maxyne Franklin (The Square, Hell and Back Again, Afghan Star) and Jess Search (Dirty Wars) from BRITDOC.