Tag: “A Way of Life”

“Belle” Director Amma Asante’s New Film “A United Kingdom” to Open BFI London Film Festival

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“A United Kingdom” starring David Oyewolo and Rosamund Pike, directed by Amma Asante (COURTESY OF PATHE)

article by Leo Barraclough via Variety.com

Director Amma Asante’s third feature “A United Kingdom,” which stars “Selma’s” David Oyelowo and “Gone Girl’s” Rosamund Pike, will open the 60th BFI London Film Festival on Oct. 5.

Asante won the BAFTA for most promising newcomer for her debut “A Way of Life,” and followed that with “Belle,” which won best actress for Gugu Mbatha-Raw at the British Independent Film Awards.

“A United Kingdom” tells the true story of Seretse Khama, King of Bechuanaland (modern-day Botswana), and Ruth Williams, the London office worker he married in 1947 in the face of fierce opposition from their families and the British and South African governments.

The LFF gala screening, which will be the film’s European premiere, will be attended by Asante, Oyelowo and Pike. There will be a live cinecast from the London event and simultaneous screenings in movie theaters across the U.K.

The film’s screenplay is penned by Guy Hibbert (“Eye in the Sky”), based on the book “Color Bar” by Susan Williams. Oyelowo plays Khama, with Pike as his future wife, Williams. Other cast members include Jack Davenport (“Pirates of the Caribbean”), Terry Pheto (“Mandela”), Tom Felton (“Harry Potter”), Arnold Oceng (“Adulthood”), Jack Lowden (“’71”) and Laura Carmichael (“Downton Abbey”).

Clare Stewart, London Film Festival director, said: “Amma Asante’s ‘A United Kingdom’ is testament to a defiant and enduring love story that also reveals a complex, painful chapter in British history. We are proud to be opening the 60th BFI London Film Festival with a film of such contemporary relevance, one that celebrates the triumph of love and intelligence over intolerance and oppression, and that confirms Asante as a distinctive and important British filmmaker.”

Asante commented: “It’s a great privilege that ‘A United Kingdom’ has been selected as the opening night film of the BFI London Film Festival. The festival means a lot to me personally, having showcased my first film, ‘A Way of Life,’ here and been honored with the U.K. Film Talent Award. I’m a proud Londoner, and in ‘A United Kingdom’ we’ve been able to film in some of the most beautiful parts of the city as well as in the wonderful landscapes of Botswana.”

The film is produced by Rick McCallum (“Star Wars”), Oyelowo, Justin Moore-Lewy, Brunson Green (“The Help”) and Charlie Mason. The film is executive produced by Pathé’s Cameron McCracken, BBC Films’ Christine Langan, the BFI’s Ben Roberts, Ingenious Media’s Eleanor Clark Windo and Guy Hibbert.

To read more, go to: http://variety.com/2016/film/global/amma-asante-a-united-kingdom-bfi-london-film-festival-1201800077/

“Belle” Director Amma Asante on How the Indie Drama Turned Her Into a Hollywood Player

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Amma Asante on set of “Belle” (Photo Courtesy Fox Searchlight)

If you asked most people in Hollywood who Amma Asante was just a few months ago, you’d probably get a blank stare. Now, after the release of her critically acclaimed film “Belle,” the British writer-director is a certified Hollywood player.

Asante’s life and career took a dramatic turn in May, when “Belle” hit theaters in North America. TheWrap spoke with her this past weekend in Boston at the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) Convention, where Asante introduced clips of the film during a presentation by Fox Home Entertainment.

“You make a movie essentially in a bubble, I think, especially when it’s your second movie,” Asante said. “So, I was certainly making this movie in a bubble, and wondering whether my concept of the world, and my concept of the world back then as well, would connect to an audience today.”

It seems Asante had no reason to worry. “Belle” received an impressive 83 percent positive rating on review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes and the independent film earned a respectable $10 million at the box office via Fox Searchlight.

RELATED: “Belle” Does Well in Limited Release; Expands to 10 More Cities Next Weekend

The movie is based on the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) – the illegitimate, mixed-race daughter of Royal Navy Captain, Sir John Lindsay (Matthew Goode). Lindsay leaves Belle to be raised by her aristocratic great uncle, Lord Mansfield, in 18th century England. Mansfield (Tom Wilkinson) and his wife (Emily Watson) are already taking care of another niece, and the two girls become inseparable. But while Belle’s lineage allows her certain privileges, her skin color prevents her from having the traditional noble social status.

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Amma Asante speaks at NABJ in Boston, Friday, Aug. 1, 2014 (Credit: Brett E. Chambers)

“Initially this project had started off with my producer and the writer who’s credited on the film, with HBO in America. Then HBO dropped the project,” Asante said. After the script passed through several different hands, Asante decided to give it a more personal touch.

“What I did was, I put my experiences into Dido’s life. That was the easiest way of connecting the historical facts and to try and make it personal … There are many lines in it that are quotes from my father and quotes from my sister,” Asante said, referring to the fact that she grew up in England, but felt like an outsider because she is black and of Ghanaian descent.

“We lived in an area where we were one of only two black families on the street,” Asante explained as she opened up about her personal experiences with racism. “We went through that period of having feces through the letterbox (mailbox) … and graffiti on our walls.”

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