Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) announced today that it has acquired its first original documentary. The Square tracks the Egyptian revolution from 2011 to 2013.
The film, created by director-producer Jehane Noujaim, "tells the behind-the-headlines story of the Egyptian Revolution through the eyes of young activists who have sought for the last two years to build a better Egypt." The Square won the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival Documentary People's Choice Award, and a prior version of the film garnered the Audience Award at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.
In its quest to create more original content, Netflix in its second-quarter earnings announcement noted the astounding success of its television show House of Cards, and alerted shareholders that it would be expanding its initiative to include broadly appealing feature documentaries and stand-up comedy specials. It said then that "Netflix has become a big destination for fans of these much loved and often under-distributed genres." This acquisition marks the first of Netflix's efforts in this regard.
"Our dream for 'The Square' is to inspire the hearts of as many people as possible and by working with Netflix, we can insure the film reaches a wide and diverse audience," said Noujaim. "Nothing about the making of this film has followed the norms and that's what makes it exciting."
"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 of 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."