Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Biggest Exhibitors Nix 'Crouching Tiger' Netflix/IMAX Plan; What Happens Now? Biggest Exhibitors Nix 'Crouching Tiger' Netflix/IMAX Plan; What Happens Now? Bronski Beat Fans Rejoice!   Toronto Fave "Pride" Leads This Week's Indie Releases Bronski Beat Fans Rejoice! Toronto Fave "Pride" Leads This Week's Indie Releases Indie Hit Or Miss: 'Skeleton Twins' Stays Strong, "Hector" OK Start, "Tracks" Gets Lost in the Mud Indie Hit Or Miss: 'Skeleton Twins' Stays Strong, "Hector" OK Start, "Tracks" Gets Lost in the Mud Will Fox's 'Runner" be A-Maze-ing?  This Week's Previews and Predictions Will Fox's 'Runner" be A-Maze-ing? This Week's Previews and Predictions Can 'Sin City' Unseat TMNT and 'Guardians'?  Can a Football Movie NOT Set in the South Work?  This Week's Previews & Predictions... Can 'Sin City' Unseat TMNT and 'Guardians'? Can a Football Movie NOT Set in the South Work? This Week's Previews & Predictions... New Trailer Drops For Pierce Brosnan Thriller "November Man" New Trailer Drops For Pierce Brosnan Thriller "November Man" First Trailer For The Kevin Kline/Maggie Smith Comedy "My Old Lady" First Trailer For The Kevin Kline/Maggie Smith Comedy "My Old Lady" Cool Trailer: Fox Doth Drop Awesome "Exodus: Gods And Kings" Trailer Unto Us Cool Trailer: Fox Doth Drop Awesome "Exodus: Gods And Kings" Trailer Unto Us First Trailer Drops For Goldwyn's Kevin Kline Starrer "The Last Of Robin Hood" First Trailer Drops For Goldwyn's Kevin Kline Starrer "The Last Of Robin Hood" "Selma" Lands An Oscar Friendly Date, "Bourne" Moves Out, "Compton" Moves In, and Other Release Schedule Changes "Selma" Lands An Oscar Friendly Date, "Bourne" Moves Out, "Compton" Moves In, and Other Release Schedule Changes Bollywood This Weekend: Akshay Kumar Proves A Soldier Is Never Off Duty In "Holiday" Bollywood This Weekend: Akshay Kumar Proves A Soldier Is Never Off Duty In "Holiday" Leapin' Lizards! Second Trailer For Sony's "Annie" Drops Leapin' Lizards! Second Trailer For Sony's "Annie" Drops Bollywood Masala: "P.K." Moves Up, "Bombay Velvet" and  "Detective Bakshi" Move Out And Tons Of Other Hindi Film News Bollywood Masala: "P.K." Moves Up, "Bombay Velvet" and "Detective Bakshi" Move Out And Tons Of Other Hindi Film News Ryan Gosling Lays An Oeuf At Cannes With "Lost River" Ryan Gosling Lays An Oeuf At Cannes With "Lost River" 76 Seconds Of A Revolving Slipper: The First Teaser For "Cinderella" 76 Seconds Of A Revolving Slipper: The First Teaser For "Cinderella" Warners Sets August 7, 2015 Date For "Point Break" Remake Warners Sets August 7, 2015 Date For "Point Break" Remake Wonderful First Trailer For Lasse Hallstrom's "The Hundred-Foot Journey" Wonderful First Trailer For Lasse Hallstrom's "The Hundred-Foot Journey" New Trailer Drops For "A Million Ways To Die In The West" (NSFW), "Alexander and the..." and "Tammy" New Trailer Drops For "A Million Ways To Die In The West" (NSFW), "Alexander and the..." and "Tammy" Nibble Bits--Kevin Hart's 30 Second NBA Playoff Spot Nibble Bits--Kevin Hart's 30 Second NBA Playoff Spot Gerard Butler/Dean Devlin Collaboration, "Geostorm" Descends Upon March 25, 2016 Gerard Butler/Dean Devlin Collaboration, "Geostorm" Descends Upon March 25, 2016

In "Belle", Racism Rings True In Past And Present

Photo of Nicole Hansen By Nicole Hansen | Box Office Insider April 30, 2014 at 7:14PM

Last night Fox Searchlight hosted a screening of their upcoming release of "Belle" exclusively for members of The Producers Guild and Screen Actors Guild. The screening was followed by a Q&A with the film's British producer, Damian Jones.
1


Belle

In Belle, Racism Rings True in Past and Present

Last night Fox Searchlight hosted a screening of their upcoming release of "Belle" exclusively for members of The Producers Guild and Screen Actors Guild. The screening was followed by a Q&A with the film's British producer, Damian Jones. The film, based on the true story of a mixed race woman who is taken in after her enslaved African mother dies and is raised at the family estate of her father, a Captain in the British Navy. The film was inspired by a painting of Dido Belle and her cousin Bette which now hangs in the present Earl of Mansfield's home in Perth, Scotland. Damian Jones had been developing the project with the writer, Misan Sagay in the spirit of a Jane Austen even as he produced the film "Iron Lady" with Meryl Streep.


Upon returning to "Belle" director, Amma Asante who like the writer is a woman of African descent, cast the relatively unknown, mixed-race Gugu Mbatha-Raw whom producer, Jones had worked with years earlier on another project. She was talented and "light on her feet" after years of working in television in the USA. The film received funding from BFI (British Film Institute) for the $10 million budget. Producer, Jones pointed out that in the UK and other places around the world it is easier to get tax subsidized funding for film projects unlike in Los Angeles which is supposed to be the center of the entertainment industry. The film was shot exclusively on location and not on a sound stage. Unfortunately the real Kenwood House was undergoing renovations so interiors were shot in a combination of stately homes in the areas around London.

When it came to getting distribution, the sales representatives, Bankside Films advised against going to Cannes where acquisitions executives are seeing a steady stream of product for sale over the length of the festival and film market. Rather, they decided to stage simultaneous screenings of the film at a later date for distributors in London, New York and Los Angeles; that is when Fox Searchlight stepped up and bought "Belle".  Though the film was completed in time for the busy 2013 awards season release schedule, Searchlight held off to give "Belle" a chance to be noticed rather than get lost in the pre-Oscar season log-jam of quality art house films. Mr. Jones feared that a story about racism in the 18th Century would not feel relevant in a world where the United States had elected a black president, but was reminded as recently as yesterday with the controversy over the racist statement made about superstar basketball star Magic Johnson by Clippers owner Donald Sterling, racism is something that has yet to be conquered. 

Kudos to Fox Searchlight for continuing to distribute quality stories that shine a light on past racism like it's Oscar winning film "Twelve Years a Slave" and their awards season release of the Nazi Germany era film, "The Book Thief." By giving context to the issue through fine storytelling, this weekend's limited release of the fascinating true life of Dido "Belle" will surely find an audience willing to embrace its message of treating all human beings as equal, no matter what their race may be. 



By: 

Nicole Hansen, President of Green Galaxy Pictures

Independent Film Producer and Member of the Producers Guild of America and Screen Actors Guild


This article is related to: Belle, Fox Searchlight, In the Spotlight, Filmmaker Toolkit


E-Mail Updates





Upcoming Imax Titles

2014
9/5 Forrest Gump
9/26 The Equalizer

Upcoming D-Box Titles

2014
9/19 The Maze Runner

Upcoming 3D Titles

2014
9/26 The Equalizer
10/3 Annabelle

Studio Market Share

Thru August 3rd
1. Fox 18.1% 1,156m
2. Warner Brothers 15.7 998m

Major Film Festivals

8/6 - 8/16 Locarno
8/27 - 9/6 Venice Film Festival