Amma Asante’s “A United Kingdom,” a historical romance starring David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike, is set to open the 60th BFI London Film Festival. The two leads play King Seretse Khama of Bechuanaland (now Botswana) and London office-worker Ruth Williams, respectively, a black man and white woman who wed in 1947 in the face of their families’ (and governments’) protestations.
Asante, whose “Belle” tackled similar material, said in a statement that “It’s a great privilege that ‘A United Kingdom’ has been selected as the Opening Night Film of the BFI London Film Festival. The Festival means a lot to me personally, having showcased my very first film, ‘A Way of Life,’ here and been honoured with the UK Film Talent Award. I’m a proud Londoner and in ‘A United Kingdom’ we’ve been able to film in some of the most beautiful parts of the city as well as in the wonderful landscapes of Botswana.”
Festival Director Clare Stewart added that Asante’s film “is testament to a defiant and enduring love story that also reveals a complex, painful chapter in British history. We are proud to be opening the 60th BFI London Film Festival with a film of such contemporary relevance, one that celebrates the triumph of love and intelligence over intolerance and oppression, and that confirms Asante as a distinctive and important British filmmaker.”
Rounding out the cast are Jack Davenport, Terry Pheto, Tom Felton, Arnold Oceng, Jack Lowden and Laura Carmichael. “A United Kingdom” will open the London Film Festival on October 5 and presumably open shortly thereafter, with an awards campaign likely — Pike received an Oscar nod for “Gone Girl,” while Oyelowo was considered a contender for “Selma” but didn’t ultimately get nominated.