Penelope Wilton, Sam Reid, Tom Felton and James Norton have joined the cast of Amma Asante’s Belle, which starts shooting in the UK on Sept 23.
Gugu Mbatha Raw will take the title role, and other confirmed actors are Tom Wilkinson, Miranda Richardson, Matthew Goode, Emily Watson and Sarah Gadon.
CinemaNX will release in the UK and Bankside has presold to Icon in Australia, Benelux Film Distributors in Benelux, Rialto in Switzerland, Shooting Stars in Middle East, Bonton in Czech Republic, and Jaguar for world airline rights.
Damian Jones (The Iron Lady) is producing for his DJ Films. He started developing the project after seeing a 1779 painting of Dido Elizabeth Belle, a mixed-race girl who was raised as an aristocratic lady in England. Her story is told against the backdrop of Lord Mansfield’s 18th century rulings about slavery. Reid [pictured] plays John Davinier, Dido Belle’s love interest.
Jones told Screen: “I thought, ‘what a fascinating world.’ Those Austenesque movies are tried and tested but this has something unique and fresh.”
“The calibre of talent that has attracted itself to it is amazing, it’s a very exciting ensemble,” Jones added.
The film had development support from Chris Collins at the UK Film Council, later the BFI. Belle now is one of the first projects to get production support from the BFI Film Fund after Ben Roberts has taken the reins.
Roberts noted: “Belle promises to be a rich and accessible period drama with a difference; exploring race, class and gender in eighteenth century Britain in a way that will entertain and enlighten audiences.”
The film will shoot for seven weeks in London, Oxford and The Isle of Man and Pinewood Studios. The film will shoot at locations including Kenwood House, Syon House, the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich, and the Royal Courts of Justice.
Executive producers are Steve Christian, Julie Goldstein, Ivan Dunleavy, Steve Norris, Phil Hunt and Compton Ross.
Backers also include Isle of Man Film, Pinewood Films, Head Gear Films and Metrol Technology.
Jones expects the film to be delivered in late spring.
Asante previously directed 2004’s BAFTA-winning A Way of Life. – [source]
The BAFTA film award winner’s romantic drama also stars Tom Wilkinson, Miranda Richardson and Matthew Goode and is set in 18th century England.
LONDON – Penelope Wilton (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel), Sam Reid (Serena), Tom Felton (Rise of the Planet of the Apes) and James Norton (Rush) are the latest names to join BAFTA award winner Amma Asante’s sophomore movie effort, the period drama Belle.
The movie, written by Asante, also boasts Tom Wilkinson, Miranda Richardson, Matthew Goode, Emily Watson and Sarah Gadon in the cast, as well as lead Gugu Mbatha Raw.
The project is billed as a tale of passion and romance and tells the tale of a mixed–race girl raised as an aristocratic lady in 18th century England.
Produced by Damian Jones (The Iron Lady), Asante’s second film as writer/director following her BAFTA Award-winning A Way of Life in 2004, was originally developed with Chris Collins at the now defunct U.K. Film Council and also at the British Film Institute.
It marks one of the first productions to be awarded production finance by Ben Roberts, the new director of the BFI Film Fund. It will shoot in the Isle of Man, London, Oxford, as well as Pinewood Studios, for seven weeks beginning Sept. 24.
Executive producers are Steve Christian (Chico & Rita), Julie Goldstein (Shakespeare In Love), Ivan Dunleavy (Pinewood Shepperton CEO), Steve Norris (Me And Orson Welles), Phil Hunt (Trishna) and Compton Ross (Trishna).
Collins will oversee the production for the BFI Film Fund and the co-producers are Robert Norris and Jane Robertson (The Lady).
U.K. based banner Bankside Films is handling exclusive worldwide sales, with CinemaNX on board to distribute in the U.K.
Pre-sales inked by Bankside include Icon in Australia, Benelux Film Distributors in Benelux, Rialto in Switzerland, Shooting Stars in Middle East, Bonton in Czech Republic, and Jaguar for World Airline rights.
Belle is the third project to receive investment from Pinewood Studios as part of its Pinewood Films initiative which was established to help fund and support British, independent films. – [source]