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LONDON – BAFTA-winning director Amma Asante (A Way of Life, Belle) will be the focus of the first of this year’s “Brits to Watch: The Screenings,” a series of showcase events hosted by the British Academy in New York and Los Angeles.
The events, in partnership with the government-backed British Council, aim to provide a platform to introduce British film talent to the U.S. film industry.
Asante is lined up to attend a screening of her sophomore feature, Belle, which premiered at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival, to an industry invite-only crowd in New York on April 1.
Belle is inspired by the true story of a mixed-race girl raised as an aristocratic English lady around the time of the abolition of slavery. The film will be released by Fox Searchlight in the U.S. on May 2 before a U.K. rollout on June 13.
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.
With the screenings strand now in its second year, the BAFTA-led “Brits to Watch” campaign kicked off three years ago in Los Angeles and was supported by a visit from Prince William and Kate Middleton.
At that event, BAFTA introduced 42 promising British newcomers to U.S. film, television and games industry players at a black-tie gala event in Los Angeles.
BAFTA CEO Amanda Berry said: “Since then, we’ve 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 U.S. film industry.”
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 program 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.”
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).
BAFTA’s “Brits to Watch: The Screenings” is produced in partnership with British Council with the support of Framestore, Langham Hospitality Group, Soho House and U.K. Trade & Investment.
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