Belle director Amma Asante calls for space for other female filmmakers


The first black woman to direct the opening movie of the BFI London Film Festival has called for more women to be given "the same privilege" as male filmmakers.

Amma Asante, whose film A United Kingdom will be the opening night gala of the festival, said the situation was slowly improving but things were still "not good".

Amma Asante attending the IWC gala in honour of the British Film Institute at Rosewood Hotel in London.

Her film tells the true love story of Seretse Khama, King of Bechuanaland, now modern Botswana, and Ruth Williams, the London office worker he married in 1948 in the face of opposition from their families and the British government.

She said: "We are not a minority as women, we are 50% of the population and we also play a large part in getting men to the cinema to watch these films that often times is with white men within a certain age bracket on screen, and it's not to say women directors will always direct women's stories but seeing the world through a female gaze from time to time shouldn't be an odd thing, it shouldn't be 1.4% of the time.

"It's getting better (for female directors) but it's not good."

Amma Asante attending the Into Film Awards at the Odeon Leicester Sq, London.

She added: "I think we all know that often times when we go to the cinema the majority of the films on are about white men and when we talk about diversity on screen that is what we are challenging.

"We are not saying we want to stop those films being made, we are simply saying there are other realities that are also a default experience.

Amma Asante and Rosamund Pike (right) pose for photos at a reception hosted by Chancellor George Osborne for the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences

"I walk a female path every day, I see the world through these female eyes, that is my default experience and I know that there are 50% of other human beings in this country who also walk a similar path to that.

"So it's not about removing what is already there, it's about allowing the space for others to join and have the same privilege."

David Oyelowo attending the European premiere of Selma at the Curzon Mayfair, London.

Selma star David Oyelowo, who plays the African King in Asante's film, serves as producer and was instrumental in getting it made, added: "Amma directing this film shouldn't be special, it's special to me artistically but it shouldn't be special that a woman directed it if women constitute 50% of the population.

"They are not a minority but here we are, we are still in that place."

A United Kingdom is released in UK cinemas on November 25.