Netflix picks up Orlando von Einsiedel’s “Virunga”

The VOD platform has acquired exclusive rights for the eastern Congo-set doc thriller (pictured), following festival screenings at Tribeca, Hot Docs and AFI Docs.
July 28, 2014

VOD platform Netflix has acquired the exclusive rights to Orlando von Einsiedel’s eastern Congo-set doc thriller Virunga (pictured), which it will make available to viewers later this year.

The 92-minute film, which had its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in April, focuses on the conflict taking place in and around the Virunga National Park in eastern Congo, which is home to the world’s last remaining mountain gorilla population.

It follows a Belgian conservationist and his team of Congolese rangers, as they attempt to safeguard the UNESCO World Heritage Site from both African militia, and western interests seeking to exploit the park’s resources.

“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’s VP of original documentary and comedy, in a statement. “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.”

The acquisition sees the VOD platform venturing further into the realm of issue docs, and comes after realscreen revealed in May that Netflix had acquired Human Rights Watch-focused doc E-Team in a high six-figure deal.

Other notable non-fiction acquisitions for the platform have included Mission Blue, The Battered Bastards of Baseball, The Square and The Lady in Number 6.

Virunga received funding from the UK-based Britdoc Foundation – which confirmed details of the Netflix acquisition to realscreen – and is produced by von Einsiedel and Joanna Natasegara. The exec producers are Jon Drever, Maxyne Franklin and Jess Search.

After premiering at Tribeca, the film continued its run at festivals including Hot Docs, AFI Docs, DOXA and the Edinburgh International Film Festival.

“Wide distribution was always a key ambition for the team behind Virunga,” Britdoc director Franklin told realscreen. “Netflix Originals are the perfect partner to grow audiences globally and get the story of these brave rangers into the world.”

Check out the trailer for Virunga below:

About The Author
Barry Walsh is editor and content director for realscreen, and has served as editor of the publication since 2009. With a career in entertainment media that spans two decades, prior to realscreen, he held the associate editor post for now defunct sister publication Boards, which focused on the advertising and commercial production industries. Before Boards, he served as editor of Canadian Music Network, a weekly music industry trade, and as music editor for As content director, he also oversees the development of content for the brand's market-leading events, the Realscreen Summit and Realscreen West, as well as new content initiatives.