March 18 – 29
At Tower City
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Country: UNITED KINGDOM
Run Time: 105 minutes
Eighteenth century English propriety meets the horrors of the slave trade in BELLE, inspired by a true story. Dido Elizabeth Belle, daughter of a Royal Navy officer and an enslaved African woman, is taken to be raised by her father’s uncle, the Chief Justice of England. Lord Mansfield (Tom Wilkinson) and his fussy wife (Emily Watson) are already raising Dido’s cousin, Lady Elizabeth. Though Belle’s aristocratic lineage affords her privileges, the color of her skin renders her unable to function as a full member of society. Belle finds a suitor in an idealistic young vicar’s son considered her social inferior. Now an important case comes before Lord Mansfield—the Zong massacre—in which Africans are thrown from a slave ship and drowned, allowing its owners to claim insurance for their damaged “cargo.” Lord Mansfield, with the support of his beloved grand-niece, must make a decision with far-reaching implications for the treatment of blacks. Gugu Mbatha Raw is dignified and restrained as Belle. —B.B.
Pia Di Ciaula, Victoria Boydell
Gugu Mbatha Raw, Tom Wilkinson, Sam Reid, Sarah Gadon, Miranda Richardson, Penelope Wilton, Tom Felton, James Norton, Matthew Goode, Emily Watson
Amma Asante is a British writer and director. She started her career as a child actress, appearing as a regular in the British school drama Grange Hill. In her late teens, she made the move to screenwriting.
"A Way of Life" (2004), BELLE (2013)