Thanks to our spies across the pond…
Here are a few photos from the Oxford set of British actor/writer/director/producer Amma Asante’s (in photo above-left) period drama about the trials and tribulations of a mixed-race girl titled Belle, which stars: Gugu Mbatha-Raw (in photo above-right), Miranda Richardson, Tom Wilkinson, Sarah Gadon, Sam Claflin, and Matthew Goode.
Mbatha-Raw is of course playing the lead role, Belle.
The project, which was developed and supported by the British Film Institute, was one of many being shopped to buyers at Cannes in May this year, when we last wrote about it. Bankside Films, the UK-based international film sales company repping the film at Cannes, called it a “hot property.”
The project, budgeted at £6.5 million ($10.1 million), also co-stars Tom Felton (from the Harry Potter movies), Sam Reid (playing Belle’s love interest), James Norton and Penelope Wilton (Downton Abbey).
The film is being produced by Damian Jones (The Iron Lady). Executive producers are Steve Christian, Julie Goldstein, Ivan Dunleavy, Steve Norris, Phil Hunt and Compton Ross.
The story takes place in the 1780s, and follows a mixed-race girl, adopted into an aristocratic family, who faces class and color prejudices. As she blossoms into a young woman, she develops a relationship with a vicar’s son who is an advocate for slave emancipation.
The film is based on a true story – specifically, the true story of Dido Belle, a mixed-race woman raised as an aristocrat in 18th-century England.
Her full name was Dido Elizabeth Belle, born 1761, died 1804; she was the illegitimate daughter of John Lindsay (a white British Naval officer) and an African slave woman known only as Belle.
This will be Amma Asante’s second feature; her feature debut was a 2004 gritty and compelling South Wales-set racism drama titled A Way Of Life, which she also wrote. And for her work on that film, she was blessed with the BAFTA’s (the british equivalent of the Oscars) Carl Foreman Award for best debut by a British filmmaker, as well as being named The Times Breakthrough Artist Of The Year.
We’ll continue to watch Belle, so any developments will be reported here.
It’s expected to be delivered in spring 2013.
In the meantime, check out the on-set photos.