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Gugu Mabatha-Raw, Tom Wilkinson, And Emily Watson Star In Amma Asante’s BELLE

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In her first leading role, Gugu Mbatha-Raw is featured in these images from director Amma Asante’s BELLE.

The film is inspired by the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), the illegitimate mixed race daughter of Admiral Sir John Lindsay (Matthew Goode).

Raised by her aristocratic great-uncle Lord Mansfield (Tom Wilkinson) and his wife (Emily Watson), Belle’s lineage affords her certain privileges, yet her status prevents her from the traditions of noble social standing. While her cousin Elizabeth (Sarah Gadon) chases suitors for marriage, Belle is left on the sidelines wondering if she will ever find love. After meeting an idealistic young vicar’s son bent on changing society, he and Belle help shape Lord Mansfield’s role as Lord Chief Justice to end slavery in England.

In July Fox Searchlight Pictures announced that the company had acquired most worldwide rights, including North America and the United Kingdom, to BELLE.  BAFTA Award winner for A WAY OF LIFE, Asante said of her latest film, ” We’ve worked hard to turn historical facts of the life of a true pioneer into a compelling and moving cinema experience.”

BELLE will have it’s World Premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in September and will be released in theaters May 2, 2014.

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Gugu Mbatha-Raw as “Dido Elizabeth Belle” and Sam Reid as “John Davinier”

In a recent article in the Daily Mail, the actress and director spoke about how they approached the period drama.

‘It has this Jane Austen feel to it, but it’s grounded in a political and social context,’ Gugu explained.

‘There are things going on other than this “Who shall we marry?” fluff.’

The director added: ‘Me, Gugu and all the other black girls who are involved in the film have watched all the film adaptations of Austen’s stories.

‘We’ve dreamt of either playing one of those heroines, or being able to direct a film — and yet we need to be able to hang our hat on a hook where it makes sense.’

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Written by Misan Sagay, BELLE’s cast includes Academy Award nominee Tom Wilkinson, Academy Award nominee Emily Watson, Sarah Gadon, Penelope Wilton, Academy Award nominee Miranda Richardson, Tom Felton and Matthew Goode.

Cinematography is by Ben Smithard (MY WEEK WITH MARILYN), editing by Pia Di Ciaula (TYRANNOSAUR) and Victoria Boydell (THE AWAKENING), music from Rachel Portman (EMMA), costume design by Anushia Nieradzik (HUNGER) and production design by Simon Bowles (HYDE PARK ON HUDSON).

The film was produced by Damian Jones (THE IRON LADY) and 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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Sarah Gadon as “Elizabeth Murray” and Gugu Mbatha-Raw as “Dido Elizabeth Belle”

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Miranda Richardson as “Lady Ashford,” Penelope Wilton as “Lady Mary Murray,” Sarah Gadon as “Elizabeth Murray,” and Emily Watson as “Lady Mansfield”

Photos: ©Fox Searchlight Pictures

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