Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Reese, Reitman, Roshan and Rap: This Week's Indie Releases Reese, Reitman, Roshan and Rap: This Week's Indie Releases Event Cinema News:  Updated Alternative Content Schedule and Event Cinema Association Conference and Awards October 16th Event Cinema News: Updated Alternative Content Schedule and Event Cinema Association Conference and Awards October 16th 'The Maze Runner" Finally Dethrones 'Lucy' With $37 Million Overseas Weekend 'The Maze Runner" Finally Dethrones 'Lucy' With $37 Million Overseas Weekend This Week's Indies: Hector Searches For Happiness, Mia Makes Tracks and Justin Long Sings 'I Am The Walrus'. This Week's Indies: Hector Searches For Happiness, Mia Makes Tracks and Justin Long Sings 'I Am The Walrus'. 'Woman in Black' and 'Now You See Me' Sequels Find Landing Dates in This Week's Release Schedule Changes 'Woman in Black' and 'Now You See Me' Sequels Find Landing Dates in This Week's Release Schedule Changes Dolphins, Deeds and Drops Dare Destiny: Weekend Top 10 Projections Dolphins, Deeds and Drops Dare Destiny: Weekend Top 10 Projections This Week's Indie Releases: 'Trip To Italy' Expands, 'Cantinflas' Looks to Lure Latino Auds and RSA Sets Off On A 'Life of Crime' This Week's Indie Releases: 'Trip To Italy' Expands, 'Cantinflas' Looks to Lure Latino Auds and RSA Sets Off On A 'Life of Crime' 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... How To Be An Indie Distrib in 2014: My Interview With Freestyle Releasing Co-President, Mark Borde How To Be An Indie Distrib in 2014: My Interview With Freestyle Releasing Co-President, Mark Borde In Remembrance of the 100th Anniversary of the Start of "The Great War", 10 Essential World War I Movies In Remembrance of the 100th Anniversary of the Start of "The Great War", 10 Essential World War I Movies Updated Sunday Grosses: Apes and Anarchy Anchor Weekend Box Office Yet Hollywood's Bummer Summer Continues Updated Sunday Grosses: Apes and Anarchy Anchor Weekend Box Office Yet Hollywood's Bummer Summer Continues First Trailer For Disney's "Big Hero 6" First Trailer For Disney's "Big Hero 6" "Transformers" Overwhelms July 4th's Wide Openings As Weekend Plummets 44% Vs. Last Year "Transformers" Overwhelms July 4th's Wide Openings As Weekend Plummets 44% Vs. Last Year Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel's "Sex Tape" Leaks To The Public One Week Earlier Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel's "Sex Tape" Leaks To The Public One Week Earlier Carmike Purchases Bud Mayo's Digiplex Cinemas In All-Stock Deal Carmike Purchases Bud Mayo's Digiplex Cinemas In All-Stock Deal Warners Sets August 7, 2015 Date For "Point Break" Remake Warners Sets August 7, 2015 Date For "Point Break" Remake Alvin & The Chipmunks Go Into Hibernation Until 2016 Alvin & The Chipmunks Go Into Hibernation Until 2016 Updated List Of This Summer's Imax, 3D and D-Box Releases Updated List Of This Summer's Imax, 3D and D-Box Releases Brand New Trailer For Indie Title, "The Toy Soldiers" Brand New Trailer For Indie Title, "The Toy Soldiers" Top 10 Johnny Depp Performances Top 10 Johnny Depp Performances

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