After an unsuccessful attempt to release the critically acclaimed costume-drama, Belle in Ghana some months ago, Ghanaians can now look forward to the official release of the movie at the Silverbird Cinemas on September 12. Belle, a drama directed by Amma Asante, a British screenwriter, film director, and former actress. Amma Asante was born in London to Ghanaian immigrant parents; her father was an accountant, and her mother ran the family-owned African deli.
With Amma Asante’s Ghanaian connection, producers of Belle are keen on how well the movie will do in Ghana. The New York Times said ‘“as irresistible as it is moving”; Screen Daily also said “‘Belle’ is a triumph with a radiant star-making performance”; and Oprah Winfrey posted online, “I loved the #BelleMovie so much I invited cast to lunch at my house. GuGu Mbatha-Raw is a rising star! ”
Belle is inspired by the 1779 painting of Dido Elizabeth Belle beside her cousin Lady Elizabeth Murray at Kenwood House, which was commissioned by their great-uncle, William Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield, then Lord Chief Justice of England. Very little is known about the life of Dido Belle, who was the illegitimate mixed-race daughter of Mansfield’s nephew. She was born in the West Indies and entrusted to the care of Mansfield and his wife. The fictional film centres on Dido’s relationship as a young woman with an aspiring lawyer; it is set at a time of legal significance as a court case is heard on what became known as the Zong massacre, when slaves were thrown overboard from a slave ship and the owner filed with his insurance company for the losses. Lord Mansfield rules on this case in England’s Court of King’s Bench in 1786, in a decision seen to contribute to the abolition of slavery in Britain.
It stars Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Tom Wilkinson, Miranda Richardson, Penelope Wilton, Sam Reid, Matthew Goode, Emily Watson, Sarah Gadon, Tom Felton, and James Norton