First Look: Amandla Stenberg, George MacKay in Amma Asante’s ‘Where Hands Touch’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Posted in Articles, Arts, Europe, Media Archive on 2017-02-11 20:21Z by Steven

First Look: Amandla Stenberg, George MacKay in Amma Asante’s ‘Where Hands Touch’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Variety
2017-02-08

Leo Barraclough, Senior International Correspondent


Courtesy of Tantrum Films/Pinewood Pictures

Variety has been given exclusive access to the first-look image from Amma Asante’sWhere Hands Touch,” which stars Amandla Stenberg (“The Hunger Games”) and George MacKay (“Captain Fantastic”) in a story of forbidden love in Nazi Germany.

Fifteen-year-old Leyna (Stenberg), daughter of a white German mother and a black father, meets Lutz (MacKay), the son of a prominent SS officer, and a member of the Hitler Youth. “They fall helplessly in love, putting their lives at risk as all around them the persecution of Jews and those deemed ‘non-pure’ slowly unfolds,” according to a statement. “Does their love stand a chance amidst violence and hatred?”…

Read the entire article here.

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A True Story of Love, Race and Royalty Gets Crammed Into A United Kingdom

Posted in Africa, Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, South Africa, United Kingdom on 2017-02-11 19:57Z by Steven

A True Story of Love, Race and Royalty Gets Crammed Into A United Kingdom

LA Weekly
2017-02-06

April Wolfe, Lead Film Critic


Courtesy of Fox Searchlight

In director Amma Asante’s epic political romance A United Kingdom, David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike star as Seretse and Ruth Khama, the interracial royal couple who stunned the world when they fought to rule the country that would become the Republic of Botswana. The story’s a wildly interesting history lesson on African poverty, the rise of apartheid in the late 1940s and Britain’s passive role in separating Botswana’s blacks from whites. But here all that complexity plays more Disney than drama, with a script from Guy Hibbert (Eye in the Sky) that turns love into a montage and politics into a trite cartoon of good vs. evil.

The couple lindy-hops through courtship and right into an engagement in the early scenes, which are set to an American jazz soundtrack. They first lock eyes at a dance in London, where he’s a law student and she’s an office worker. In real life, the two met secretly for a year before Seretse even got the nerve to ask, “Do you think you could love me?” But the script ramming right through the early romance and into the marriage leaves so many open questions about the characters’ love; as portrayed in the film, they barely know one another when Ruth decides she’s going to move to Africa to be Seretse’s queen.

Against the wishes of their families — and the British and South African governments — Seretse and Ruth marry and travel to Bechuanaland so that he can ascend the throne and use his education to help his people. Soon after their arrival comes one of the film’s most poignant moments: Seretse’s aunt Ella (Abena Ayivor), who’s the current queen, drills right into the thin white woman before her to ask if Ruth knows what it would mean to be a mother to the nation and its predominantly black citizens. Ella has a good point: At a time when white people are swarming into Bechuanaland to turn black citizens into servants, how good an idea is a white queen? Later, Ruth sits in her room, practicing British queen skills such as waving and smiling, while the tribe’s women break their backs outside to get food to their families. But A United Kingdom doesn’t fully explore this cultural distance; the film’s structure requires that Ruth be quickly accepted into the tribe, so the story can move on to Britain’s treachery…

Read the entire article here.

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Reel Representation: Amma Asante’s films adeptly portray multiracial identity

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Autobiography, Communications/Media Studies, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States on 2017-02-11 02:19Z by Steven

Reel Representation: Amma Asante’s films adeptly portray multiracial identity

The Daily Bruin
Los Angeles, California
2017-02-09

Olivia Mazzucato

Diversity in film and television came into the spotlight in 2016 with #OscarsSoWhite. A USC study in 2016 found only about a quarter of speaking characters belonged to non-white racial/ethnic groups. In “Reel Representation,” columnist Olivia Mazzucato discusses different issues of race and representation in media as they relate to new movies and TV shows.

The closest I’ve ever felt to seeing myself on screen is when I watched the film “Belle.”

Belle” tells the story of Dido Elizabeth Belle, the daughter of an enslaved African woman and a white British officer. She’s brought to England and raised by her uncle, an earl and the Lord Chief Justice, and finds herself facing a choice between two men – a poor vicar’s son, whom she loves, and a naive aristocrat with a bigoted family. Throughout the film, she tries to reconcile her identities, both as an heiress in the British upper class and as a black woman struggling to find her place in a shifting society.

I may not be able to relate directly to Dido’s life, but her struggles with identity are all too familiar to me.

As someone who is biracial – half Italian-American and half Japanese-American – it’s difficult to process my identity, particularly when it comes to seeing myself represented in media. I don’t look like the white female characters I see, nor the few Asian characters that occasionally grace the screen. On some level, I feel like I’ll never truly be represented because my identity is so specific…

Read the entire article here.

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A United Kingdom: Love In The Time Of The British Empire

Posted in Africa, Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2016-11-30 20:40Z by Steven

A United Kingdom: Love In The Time Of The British Empire

Media Diversified
2016-11-28

Shane Thomas

Once the year in film began with #OscarsSoWhite, was it coincidence that 2016 is closing – and 2017 beginning – with a raft of movies featuring people of colour? We have Hidden Figures, Lion, Fences, and the magnificent Moonlight to come. We recently had the release of Queen of Katwe, and last Friday saw A United Kingdom, Amma Asante’s follow-up to Belle, appear in cinemas.

The story focuses around the true-life romance between Seretse Khama and Ruth Williams (played by David Oyelewo and Rosamund Pike). Seretse, who is studying in London in 1947, meets and falls in love with Ruth while in England. Normally this would set the table for a garden variety rom-com. But there’s no chance of any “com”, due to the complications the relationship brings. Seretse is the dauphin to the throne of Bechuanaland (a place under British control, before it was known as Botswana), and he is black, while Ruth is white…

Read the entire review here.

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Amma Asante’s A United Kingdom

Posted in Africa, Articles, Biography, Book/Video Reviews, History, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2016-11-24 02:56Z by Steven

Amma Asante’s A United Kingdom

gal-dem
2016-11-18

Grace Barber-Plentie


Image via Telegraph

The characters and scenarios in Amma Asante’s A United Kingdom are like ghosts – they’re long gone, long dead, and yet there is still a resonance and urgency to them that keeps pushing through to our subconscious, never letting us quite forget. Regardless of the merits of her films themselves, Asante is a clever filmmaker, a filmmaker with a plan. At the BFI’s recent Black Star symposium, she told the audience that she deliberately makes period films about old issues in order to show how they reflect on our own contemporary problems with race, gender, love and money. Gone is the period dress of Belle, but there are still hoards of mixed race girls out there trying to find their place in society. And while in 2016 one would hope that an interracial couple could walk down the street holding hands without a second glance, Asante’s true story of the heir to the throne of Bechuanaland (now Botswana) and his white wife still makes us think about those of us that must fight for what we want and who we love.

The love worth fighting for, in the case of A United Kingdom, is that of white shopkeeper’s daughter Ruth, in a modest turn by Rosamund Pike and African heir Seretze Khama, played by David Oyelowo; another strong performance to add to his list. Their love, as seen in the opening scenes of the film, is not a fierce, passionate one, but one where each are equal and share love deeply in their own restrained way….

Read the entire review here.

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Belle: A Film That Defied Expectations

Posted in Articles, Arts, History, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2014-09-01 00:33Z by Steven

Belle: A Film That Defied Expectations

The Root
2014-08-24

Julie Walker

The film’s star and director talked to The Root about how an inspirational character helped shaped the movie, which is now out on DVD.

Actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw, who stars in the movie Belle—now out on DVD—grew up in England watching Jane Austen films but never imagined that she would play the lead in a period drama.

Those films, like the books they were based on, never had black or biracial heroines, but Belle does. The film was inspired by the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle, the daughter of an enslaved African woman and an officer in the British Royal Navy. Belle was raised a free woman in 17th-century England.

The film opened in May to rave reviews and so far has grossed $10,722,990 (as of Aug. 24, 2014), according to Box Office Mojo. Not bad for a movie that only opened on four screens and had trouble getting made because of the subject matter.

The film’s star and director talked to The Root about how an inspirational character helped shaped the movie, which is now out on DVD.

Mbatha-Raw told The Root in May, before the film’s U.S. release, that she wanted young girls to be able to see themselves in Belle. “This is the first time I have seen a period drama with a biracial woman as the lead and it is told from a female British perspective,” said Mbatha-Raw, who has a white English mother and black South African father. “The film explores issues of identity, race, class and gender, which are very universal themes, but also the film is this sweeping love story. It is such a different perspective, and I think it is important to know as a biracial person myself.”…

…That director is Amma Asante, who is also British. She echoed the same sentiment when The Root spoke with her before the film’s U.S. premiere.

“There was a little girl who looked like me and you, who helped to change the course of our history. That’s a good thing; we can celebrate that,” Asante said.

It was the idea that a black woman would be the focus that drew Asante to the story. “I feel like it is essential to explore these stories because they are part of what makes us who we are today, and we are all responsible to own our history. We need to tell these stories,” said Asante, who signed on to the project in 2009…

Read the entire article here.

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Can ‘Belle’ End Hollywood’s Obsession with the White Savior?

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, History, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2014-05-15 04:56Z by Steven

Can ‘Belle’ End Hollywood’s Obsession with the White Savior?

The Daily Beast
2014-05-04

Keli Goff

The black characters in films like ‘The Help’ and ’12 Years A Slave’ always seem to need a white knight. But the black protagonist in ‘Belle,’ a new film about racism and slavery in England, takes matters into her own hands.

The film Belle, which opens this weekend in limited release stateside, is inspired by a true story, deals with the horrors of the African slave trade, and its director is black and British. For these reasons, comparisons to the recent recipient of the Best Picture Oscar, 12 Years a Slave, are inevitable

But there are some notable differences.

Among them, Belle is set in England, while 12 Years a Slave is set in America. 12 Years a Slave depicts—in unflinching detail—the brutalities of slavery, while Belle merely hints at its physical and psychological toll. But the most significant deviation is this: whereas 12 Years a Slave faced criticism for being yet another film to perpetuate the “white savior” cliché in cinema, in Belle, the beleaguered black protagonist does something novel: she saves herself.

Belle marks the first film I’ve seen in which a black woman with agency stands at the center of the plot as a full, eloquent human being who is neither adoring foil nor moral touchstone for her better spoken white counterparts,” the novelist and TV producer Susan Fales-Hill told The Daily Beast

Read the entire article here.

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Belle: Toronto Review

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, History, Media Archive, United Kingdom, United States on 2013-09-14 15:19Z by Steven

Belle: Toronto Review

The Hollywood Reporter
2013-09-12

John DeFore

The true story of a mixed-race child raised by British aristocrats is lightly fictionalized by Amma Asante.

TORONTO — Hoping to use some Jane Austen-style courtship anxiety to lend drama to an episode in 18th-century English history that is novel enough on its own, Amma Asante’s Belle centers on Dido Elizabeth Belle, the mixed-race child who was sent to be raised by the second-highest judge in England’s courts. Though the inventions of Misan Sagay’s script emphasize concerns over dowries and social rank that will be grating for many contemporary viewers, extracting little of the humor that Austen regularly found in such hangups, the picture’s sour notes are balanced by fine performances and clear historical appeal. Moviegoers should respond well, if not overwhelmingly, when Fox Searchlight brings it to theaters next spring…

Read the entire review here.

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Belle [World Premiere]

Posted in Biography, Canada, History, Live Events, Media Archive, Slavery, United Kingdom, Videos, Women on 2013-09-07 19:39Z by Steven

Belle [World Premiere]

Toronto International Film Festival 2013
TIFF Bell Lightbox
Reitman Square
350 King Street West
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
2013-09-05 through 2013-09-15

Film Information:

Directed by Amma Asante
2013
105 minutes

Gugu Mbatha-Raw takes the title role alongside Tom Wilkinson, Miranda Richardson, Emily Watson and Canada’s Sarah Gadon in the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle, the illegitimate, bi-racial daughter of a Royal Navy admiral in 18th-century Britain.

Fans of English period drama are accustomed to its gorgeous settings, social graces, and sophisticated language. But what’s often missing from those adaptations of Jane Austen or the Brontës is the institution at the foundation of that refined life: slavery. Austen wrote about how the slave trade made British gentry wealthy, but until now no film has brought both the glory and the contradictions of that life to the screen in such a powerful fashion.

In late eighteenth century England, Dido Elizabeth Belle is born to a white British admiral and a black Caribbean slave. The admiral’s well-bred family is appalled, but when he returns to sea, custom dictates that they raise his child as an aristocrat. Britain’s imposing Lord Mansfield (Tom Wilkinson) is both Dido’s uncle and the family patriarch, and instructs this biracial young woman (Gugu Mbatha Raw) to respect both the law and the social codes of her station. She is a lady, but an embarrassment. How is she ever to marry?…

For more information, click here.

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