By Simon Dang | The Playlist May 16, 2012 at 9:39AM
Quentin Tarantino and Steve McQueen dared to tackle race and slavery with their latest projects, "Django Unchained" and "Twelve Years A Slave," and it looks like they've now paved the way for other filmmakers to follow suit. One such example is British helmer Amma Asante who's set to adapt the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle -- a half-black illegitimate daughter of renowned Admiral Sir John Lindsay, eventually taken in and raised as an aristocratic lady in 18th Century England by Lindsay's uncle William Murray, the Earl of Mansfield.
Most impressive is the cast Asante has managed to put together, which sees Gugu Mbatha-Raw ("Larry Crowne," J.J. Abrams' short-lived "Undercovers") in the title role with rising stars Sarah Gadon, Sam Claflin, Emily Watson and Matthew Goode all co-starring alongside veterans Tom Wilkinson and Miranda Richardson. Gadon and Claflin are notably taking prominent roles respectively playing Belle's cousin and love interest, however, no further details on the remaining cast members' roles were revealed.
Helmer Asante only has one directorial effort under her belt in 2004's "A Way Of Life," but the film earned numerous accalades through its festival runs worldwide, and the film saw her take home the BAFTA's Carl Foreman Award For Most Promising Newcomer -- an award won by Joe Wright, Andrea Arnold, Matt Greenhalgh and Steve McQueen after her. That film also tackled social issues, centering on a Welsh single mother living in a dilapilated council flat, which hopefully means the helmer will bring a fresh spin to what's being described as an "Austen-esque period piece [that also explores] the challenges Belle faces in life."
“We are thrilled with this pedigree of talent which, along with Amma’s vision, will do justice to this important love story that resonates today with its issues of colour and class,” producer Damian Jones ("The Iron Lady") explained. The project is being shopped around at Cannes as we speak with production eyed for this September. [Variety/ScreenDaily]