BELLE

Directed by: Amma Asante 2013 | 105 min.

Section: EuroCinema Hawaii

Premiere: Hawaii

Countries: United Kingdom

Languages: English

Genres: Drama, History, Period piece, Romance


Synopsis

Sponsored by:

EuroCinema Hawai'i

Gugu Mbatha-Raw takes the title role alongside Tom Wilkinson, Miranda Richardson, Emily Watson and Canada’s Sarah Gadon in the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle, the illegitimate, bi-racial daughter of a Royal Navy admiral in 18th-century Britain.

Fans of English period drama are accustomed to its gorgeous settings, social graces, and sophisticated language. But what's often missing from those adaptations of Jane Austen or the Brontës is the institution at the foundation of that refined life: slavery. Austen wrote about how the slave trade made British gentry wealthy, but until now no film has brought both the glory and the contradictions of that life to the screen in such a powerful fashion.

In late eighteenth century England, Dido Elizabeth Belle is born to a white British admiral and a black Caribbean slave. The admiral's well-bred family is appalled, but when he returns to sea, custom dictates that they raise his child as an aristocrat. Britain's imposing Lord Mansfield (Tom Wilkinson) is both Dido's uncle and the family patriarch, and instructs this biracial young woman (Gugu Mbatha Raw) to respect both the law and the social codes of her station. She is a lady, but an embarrassment. How is she ever to marry?

Director Amma Asante found her inspiration for BELLE in a true story, and she sets the plot in motion in sweeping, cinematic form. At the same time, she weaves in potent subplots: Dido's cousin Elizabeth (a pitch-perfect Sarah Gadon), raised in similar circumstances but untouched by racial discrimination; and a horrific, slave-trading case over which her powerful uncle must preside.

BELLE is as beautiful and romantic as any Austen adaptation, but with new insights into its time. Both stirring and thought-provoking, it offers all the pleasures of period drama but returns to rest on Dido's simple question: "How may I be too high in rank to dine with the servants but too low to dine with my family?"

Synopsis written by: Toronto

Screenings

Saturday, April 05 12:45 PM Dole Cannery A Date Passed
Sunday, April 06 1:00 PM Dole Cannery B Date Passed

Cast & Crew

Director Amma Asante
Screenwriter Misan Sagay
Producer Damian Jones
Executive Producer Steve Christian, Julie Goldstein, Steve Norris, Ivan Dunleavy, Phil Hunt, Compton Ross, Christopher Collins
Cast Gugu Mbatha Raw, Tom Wilkinson, Sam Reid, Sarah Gadon, Miranda Richardson, Penelope Wilton, Tom Felton, James Norton, Matthew Goode, Emily Watson
Cinematographer Ben Smithard
Editor Pia Di Ciaula, Victoria Boydell

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