By Sahil Patel
Netflix’s critically acclaimed original documentary film, “The Square,” won the award in its category at the Directors Guild Awards. The film, produced and directed by Jehane Noujaim, provides an on-the-ground account of the Egyptian Revolution.
Netflix acquired the rights to exclusively stream the film as a “Netflix Original” in November. The deal occurred as the streaming company began its original content expansion to include documentary films and stand-up comedy specials.
In accepting the award, Noujaim provided a rare instance of a filmmaker supporting piracy (via Deadline):
“We wanted to launch the film in Egypt, but it wasn’t cleared by censors, but it has been pirated, copied, and uploaded again and again and 750,000 people have seen it in the last couple of days. I called Ahmed (Hassan), one of the main characters and he told me, ‘I can’t walk the streets! Girls want to take pictures with me! The film has spread far beyond Cairo to villages you haven’t even heard of.’ This is the first Egyptian film nominated for an Oscar and by a woman no less and so this award means so much.”
“The Square” also won the Documentary People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival. The film originally premiered in the US at last year’s Sundance Film Festival, at which it also won the Audience Award. Next up for “The Square,” as Noujaim mentioned in her DGA acceptance speech, the Academy Awards.