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Directed by BAFTA Award-winning British filmmaker Amma Asante, ‘Belle’ is a rare period drama, in that it stars a woman of color. The 2013 film stars Gugu Mbatha-Raw as the title character Dido Elizabeth Belle, the illegitimate biracial daughter of Captain John Lindsay, a British career naval officer and Maria Belle, an enslaved African woman from the West Indies. The films centers on Belle’s relationship with a white British lawyer, John Davinier as well as Belle’s role in the abolition of slavery. Asante drew on her own personal experiences growing up as the daughter of Ghanian immigrants in a predominately white part of Britain to convey Belle’s outsider status and feelings of isolation.
The popular film has since grossed over $10 million dollars in the United States, The U.K. and Canada. And according the The Wrap,
The film also brought Asante to the attention of some very influential people in Hollywood. “The offers are streaming in, to the extent that I cannot keep up with them, if I’m really honest. So that’s a really great place to be.”
In fact, Asante is currently developing her first studio film. “My next movie will be a Warner Bros. movie, which is great and fantastic,” Asante said, as she described her upcoming movie “Unforgettable” — the story of a first wife and a second wife who were both married to the same man at one point.
“It will be a double female lead, which I found so empowering and is wonderful for me,” she said, while remaining coy about who will play the leads. “All I can say to you is both women will be A-list females and Oscar has come into their worlds at some point. Both women are American.”
‘Belle’ is currently available on Blue-ray and Amazon Instant. To read more about the life of Dido Elizabeth Belle, check out this book by Paula Byrne.