Fox Searchlight has acquired distribution rights across much of the globe to "Belle," Amma Asante's film about Dido Elizabeth Belle, the biracial daughter of a British admiral and a slave. The film marks Asante's second directorial project, following her award-winning turn behind the camera for "Way of Life."
Gugu Mbatha-Raw stars as the titular young woman alongside Tom Wilkinson, Emily Watson, Sarah Gadon and Miranda Richardson. Wilkinson and Watson play the couple that raises Belle, whose social standing is enhanced by her lineage but limited by her race.
"Gugu Mbatha-Raw is a revelation as Belle, she gives a brave and powerful performance joined by an outstanding ensemble cast and we look forward to introducing her to film audiences everywhere," Fox Searchlight presidents Nancy Utley and Stephen Gilula said in a statement. "We were entranced by this inspiring story of love and perseverance during a time of significant social and legal changes."
Searchlight's Ray Strache, Megan O'Brien and Tony Safford made the deal with Bankside Films' Hilary Davis andStephen Kelliher, Lee & Thompson's Christos Michaels and Steve Christian of Isle of Man Film and Pinewood Pictures.
The specialty distributor acquired rights in both North America and the UK and will release the film in the spring of 2014.
"The experience and sensibilities of the team at Fox Searchlight make it a wonderful match for ‘Belle,'" Asante said in a statement. "I am so pleased their passion for this film means it now has the ability to be seen by audiences worldwide. We've worked hard to turn historical facts of the life of a true pioneer into a compelling and moving cinema."