Despite a BAFTA win for her directorial debut (A Way of Life), it took nearly a decade for Amma Asante to make her sophomore picture (Belle). Asante was clearly speaking from first-hand experience when she urged the film industry to support filmmakers beyond their first film in a keynote speech at Screen Film Summit.
“The first movie is tough,” she said, “but I would argue that the second… is at least as tough, if not more difficult to get off the ground. Those difficulties appear to become compounded when the filmmaker is female and/or of a minority” [emphasis added].
She added, “No industry can remain sustainable without new and diverse life blood and without those who have the opportunity to hone and develop their talents and skills to their most full potential. When filmmakers dabble with a single or even a couple of films and then disappear, what we will never know is whether or not we have lost our very best — we lose the opportunity to grow, strengthen and develop our industry.”
Asante revealed that neither of her (amazing) films would have been made without advocates and mentors from within the corridors of power: “My first and second movies are indeed very different – but they had much in common in terms of how they came to fruition – and in many ways it isn’t complicated. Somebody decided to champion me – they decided not only to invest in a movie, but to invest in the talent who would be behind it.
“For each movie it was different people, who approached me with the same attitude — in so many words they asserted the idea that they believed in me, in my capabilities and unique filmmaker’s eye. Thus they would work with me until the project was ‘right’, and invest time and energy and trust, in doing so.”
Read her full keynote speech here.
Earlier this year, we reported that Asante had lined up her third film project at Warner Bros. ahead of Belle‘s US debut. Boasting two female leads, Unforgettable is a thriller about a woman terrorized by her new husband’s ex-wife. And now the director’s fourth picture — a passion project — has been confirmed: the World War II-set romance Where Hands Touch, about a mixed-race woman and a Nazi officer. The film industry is undeniably a richer, even a more sustainable, one for Asante being within it.