A year after winning the best supporting actor Oscar for Judas and the Black Messiah, Daniel Kaluuya is stepping up his creativity behind the camera.
In his first co-writing credit, the Brit star has helped pen futuristic dystopian drama The Kitchen for Netflix alongside Joe Murtagh (Calm with Horses, Gangs of London) from an original idea by Kaluuya, Kibwe Tavares and Daniel Emmerson (Calm with Horses). Kaluuya will also produce the feature under his 59% Productions banner, while Emmerson produces for DMC Film, the production company co-founded by Michael Fassbender.
Set in London in 2044, The Kitchen paints a bleak futuristic world in which the gap between rich and poor has been stretched to its limits. With all forms of social housing having been eradicated, London’s working classes have been forced to live in temporary accommodation on the outskirts of the city. The Kitchen, however, is the first and the largest of its kind: London’s last village harbouring residents that refuse to move on and move out of the place they call home. The story revolves around local residents Izi, who is desperately trying to find a way out, and 12-year-old Benji, who has lost his mother and is searching for a family, as they battle to survive in a system that is stacked against them.
Izi will be played by actor and musician Kane Robinson, best known for his starring role in Netflix’s Top Boy series, which has just returned for the second season since being rebooted. Benji will be played by young newcomer Jedaiah Bannerman, who was discovered by casting director Aisha Bywaters (The Last Tree, We Are Lady Parts, County Lines). Bywaters, who was selected for BAFTA Breakthrough program in 2021, will reportedly use The Kitchen to launch a host of young British talent.
The Kitchen will also mark the feature directorial debut of co-creator Tavares, a multi-disciplinarian whose work has crossed theatre, shorts and architecture. Tavares was awarded the Sundance special jury award for his animated short Robots of Brixton and was nominated for the Sundance short film grand jury prize for Jonah, which starred Kaluuya. He also exec produced the BBC’s sci-fi drama Noughts & Crosses, leading the design and world building through his creative studio, Factory Fifteen.
“In 2011, I was in my barbershop and there was a guy boasting about smash and grabs — kids doing million-pound heists in a minute, getting paid £200 to do it. I saw the potential to unlock a unique story door to the inequality, fatherhood, class, joy, resilience, courage, defiance and care of London,” said Kaluuya. “Now, nearly a decade later, Kibwe Tavares, Daniel Emmerson and I are about to start production, immersing ourselves in a dystopian London that interrogates what ‘care’ means, at home and as a society and the dangers in our future if we stay indifferent to everything around us.”
The Kitchen — which was selected for the Sundance Screenwriting and Directing Lab in 2016 — was developed with the support of Film4, for whom David Kimbangi and Ollie Madden serve as executive producers. Theo Barrowclough will serve as a co-producer, while Conor McCaughan and Fassbender will serve as executive producers for DMC Film. It will shoot on location in London and Paris and release globally on Netflix in 2023.
“The Kitchen is very much a love letter to London, the city that has defined my childhood and ultimately my identity, said Tavaras. “It’s set in an extreme version of our current world; our characters have little choice but to let the city take over them. Through Benji, a 12-year-old in need of care, we explore what we as society lose in the ever-changing and shifting patterns of life, of our cities. This is a film for all the communities out there that are trying to take care of each other.”
Added Fiona Lamptey, Netflix’ director of U.K. features: “I’ve had the pleasure of producing for Kibwe over the years and couldn’t be happier to now be supporting Kibwe’s debut feature as part of the Netflix U.K. film slate. The Kitchen is ambitious, timely and will showcase the great vision he has as a filmmaker, bringing the exciting world-building and textured nuances from Daniel Kaluuya’s debut feature script to our screen.”