MUMBAI: The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) has today announced that it will profile BAFTA-winning director Amma Asante (A Way of Life, Belle) in April at the first of this year’s ‘Brits to Watch: The Screenings’, a series of showcase events hosted by BAFTA in New York and Los Angeles, in partnership with British Council, that introduce outstanding British film talent to the US film industry.
On Tuesday 1 April in New York, and on Thursday 3 April in Los Angeles, director Amma Asante will be introduced at a screening of her second feature film Belle, which premiered at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival to strong reviews, and opened this year’s Palm Springs International Film Festival. Belle is inspired by the true story of a mixed race girl raised as an aristocratic Lady in England around the time of the abolition of slavery. The film will be released by Fox Searchlight in the US on Friday 2 May, and in the UK on Friday 13 June.
In 2005, BAFTA awarded Asante the Carl Foreman Award for the Most Promising Newcomer for her debut film A Way of Life. She was also named Best Director - Drama at the BAFTA Cymru Awards in Wales in the same year.
At each ‘Brits to Watch: The Screenings’ event, a British actor, director, writer or producer who shows great promise presents a sample of recent work to an exclusive audience of film industry professionals. BAFTA also arranges a number of follow-up meetings for the individuals to meet with key industry figures in both cities.
Amanda Berry OBE, Chief Executive of BAFTA exclaimed his delight on continuing our ‘Brits to Watch’ activity in 2014. Three years ago, with the support of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, he launched their very first ‘Brits to Watch’ event in Los Angeles. Since then, BAFTA introduced a range of activity to support up-and-coming British talent and, now in its second year, ‘Brits to Watch: The Screenings’ – a strand that BAFTA is uniquely placed to deliver – introduces British rising stars to the US film industry. “I am thrilled that Amma Asante, a very talented film maker, and a BAFTA winner – is our next ‘Brit to Watch’.”
Nigel Daly, Chairman of BAFTA Los Angeles, added: “The Brits to Watch: The Screenings series is central to BAFTA's mission, and here in Los Angeles we are in a privileged position to offer a platform for the best British talents as they break through to the US marketplace. There is a long tradition of talent exchange between the US and UK, and we are honored to showcase the new generation of talents and support Amma as she furthers her career in the US.”
Charles Tremayne, Chairman of BAFTA New York, added: “This is the second year of our Brits to Watch: The Screenings program in New York and we are delighted that we have been able to bring such talented up and coming individuals to showcase their considerable work in America. It's a vital role for BAFTA as New York is clearly where Britain meets America so it's even more important that we continue to encourage directors, producers, writers and actors from both sides of the pond to work together to create excellence in a truly globalized entertainment world.”
Briony Hanson, Director of Film at British Council, said: “British Council is delighted to be continuing the series by showcasing the talents of Amma Asante. She’s a perfect fit for the programme having made a hugely confident second feature in Belle which marries a traditional view of British Cinema – period drama and a top notch cast – with a very unusual and surprising story. We really look forward to helping her connect with the US industry during her visit.”
The first ‘Brits to Watch: The Screenings’ events took place in 2013 with BAFTA-nominated directors Clio Barnard (The Selfish Giant) and Richard Laxton (Burton and Taylor). As a result of their trips, Barnard has secured US representation with The Gersh Agency and is in contact with a number of US producers about future projects, while Laxton is in talks on a number of US projects, one of which is expected to be announced imminently.
The series builds on the legacy of BAFTA’s 2011 ‘Brits to Watch’ initiative supported by Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, at which BAFTA introduced 42 promising British newcomers to leading figures in the US film, television and games industries at a black-tie gala event in Los Angeles. It is endorsed by ‘Friends of Brits to Watch: The Screenings’, a high-profile group of film professionals including: actors Damian Lewis (Homeland) Tom Hiddleston (Avengers Assemble, Midnight in Paris), Andrea Riseborough (Shadow Dancer, Brighton Rock), Simon Pegg(Star Trek, The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn), Alice Eve (Star Trek Into Darkness, Men in Black 3) and Sienna Miller (The Girl, Interview), Rebecca Hall (Parade’s End, Vicky Christina Barcelona) and David Harewood (Homeland, Blood Diamond); director Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World); screenwriter John Logan (Skyfall, Hugo, The Aviator); and writer, director and producer Armando Iannucci (Veep, In The Loop).