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by Nigel M Smith
July 1, 2013 10:17 AM
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Fox Searchlight Acquires 'Belle' Starring Tom Wilkinson and Emily Watson

Fox Searchlight "Belle"
Fox Searchlight has acquired most worldwide rights, including North American and UK, to "Belle," the movie inspired by the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle (played by newcomer Gubu Mbatha-Raw), the illegitimate mixed race daughter of a Royal Navy Admiral. The film, directed by BAFTA award winner Amma Asante ("A Way of Life"), also stars Tom Wilkinson, Emily Watson, Sarah Gadon, Penelope Wilton, Miranda Richardson and Matthew Goode. Searchlights plans to release it next spring.

"The experience and sensibilities of the team at Fox Searchlight make it a wonderful match for

'Belle,'" said Asante. "I am so pleased their passion for this film means it now has the ability to be seen by audiences worldwide. We've worked hard to turn historical facts of the life of a true pioneer into a compelling and moving cinema experience."

The film centers on Belle, a woman who's aristocratic lineage affords her certain privileges, yet is still prevented from fully participating in the traditions of her social standing because of the color of her skin. Her fortune changes when she falls for a young vicar's son bent on change who, with her help, seeks to put an end to slavery in England.

The deal was brokered by Fox Searchlight's Vice President of Acquisitions Ray Strache, Senior Vice President of Business Affairs Megan O'Brien and Executive Vice President of Worldwide Acquisitions Tony Safford with Bankside Films’ Co-Managing Director Hilary Davis and Head of Sales & Marketing Stephen Kelliher and Christos Michaels of Lee & Thompson, as well as Steve Christian on behalf of Isle of Man Film and Pinewood Pictures.  The film was developed by the BFI Film Fund which also backed production, alongside Isle of Man Film, Pinewood Pictures, Head Gear Films and Metrol Technology.

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