“Belle” 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 ‘Classics at the Town Hall’ we are presenting the second feature film by Ghanaian-British director Amma Asante (”A United Kingdom”, “Where Hands Touch”). A film which launched her as an international talent to watch after the success of her indie debut “A Way of Life”.
Asante, is a former child actress, now a British BAFTA award winning screenwriter and director. She highlighted in an interview for The Observer in 2014 why she understands Belle: “Although I’m not bi-racial, I’m bi-cultural, I walk that division every day subtly and unsubtly, consciously and unconsciously. I am that familiar and unfamiliar character in the world.” She adds that she speaks Ghanaian and accentless English – and that her parents, typically of Ghanaians, “speak English impeccably. My mother will quote you John Donne and Shakespeare at the drop of a hat in her beautiful accent.”
★★★★ “A handsomely mounted and emotionally engaging drama that smartly examines issues of race, class and gender while leaving nary a dry eye in the house” – The Guardian
“Belle unfolds not in a truly unsettling present tense, but rather with the reassuring hindsight of history, encouraging audiences to watch from a comfortable 300-year distance” – Variety