amma asante

6

I’ve worked a lot more with female directors than male directors. That’s kind of more what I know, actually!

-Gugu Mbatha-Raw

Gugu Mbatha-Raw’s directed by women filmography

Belle dir. Amma Asante - 2014
Beyond the Lights dir. Gina Prince-Bythewood - 2014
9 Kisses dir. Elaine Constantine - 2014
Jupiter Ascending dir. Lilly & Lana Wachowski - 2015
The Whole Truth dir. Courtney Hunt - 2015
After the Storm dir. Jessica Oyelowo - 2016
August 28: A Day In The Life Of A People dir. Ava DuVernay 2016
A Wrinkle in Time dir. Ava DuVernay - 2018
Fast Color dir. Julia Hart - 2018
Irreplacable You dir. Stephanie Laing - 2018
An Untamed State dir. Gina Prince-Bythewood 20??

5

Celebrate black history month by watching the works of these 10 history-making directors

1 to 5:

Amma Asante 

Best Known For: Winning a BAFTA award for Best Debut Feature for A Way of Life, directing indie hit Belle 10 years later. 

Notable Works: Belle (2014)A United Kingdom (2016)

Forthcoming: Where Hands Touch (2017)

Ava DuVernay 

Best Known For: Being the first black woman to win Best Director at Sundance, the first black woman to be nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Director and being the first black woman to direct a movie nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars. 

Notable Works: Middle of Nowhere (2012), Selma (2014)

Forthcoming: A Wrinkle in Time (2018)

Julie Dash 

Best Known For: Being the first black American woman to have a feature length film be theatrically distributed in the U.S.

Notable Works: Daughters of the Dust (1991)

Forthcoming: Travel Notes of a Geechee Girl (2016)

Safi Faye 

Best Known For: This Senagalese woman became the first Sub-Saharan woman to have a film be commercially distributed in 1976. 

Notable Works: Letter From My Village (1976), Mossane (1996)

Forthcoming: N/A.

Kasi Lemmons 

Best Known For: With all four of her feature films released theatrically in the U.S. she currently holds the record as the black woman director with the most commercially distributed films. 

Notable Works: Eve’s Bayou (1997) 

Forthcoming: Agaat, On Beauty

CLICK HERE FOR DIRECTORS 6-10

5

I just want to talk about female directors as well: Gina Prince-Bythewood, Amma Asante — we have to celebrate these women. [Selma] is about embracing the vote, utilizing the vote. Support these women, vote for them at the box office

David Oyelowo accepting the NAACP IMAGE Award for Best Actor for Selma

David Oyelowo directed by women filmography

Circles dir. Sonia Castang - 2001
Tomorrow La Scala! dir. Francesca Joseph - 2002
Shoot the Messenger dir.  Ngozi Onwurah - 2006
Rage dir. Sally Potter - 2009
96 Minutes dir. Aimee Lagos - 2011
Middle of Nowhere dir. Ava DuVernay - 2012
Selma dir. Ava DuVernay - 2014
9 Kisses dir. Elaine Constantine - 2014
Five Nights in Main dir. Maris Curran - 2015
Nina dir. Cynthia Mort - 2015
Queen of Katwe dir. Mira Nair - 2016
A United Kingdom dir. Amma Asante - 2016
August 28th: A Day In the Life of a People - Ava DuVernay - 2016
Untitled Hurricane Katrina Project dir. Ava DuVernay - ????

David [Oyelowo] and I worked together on the BBC TV series “Brothers and Sisters” [in the late 1990s]. I was one of the head writers, and he was a lead on the show. It was a groundbreaking series in the U.K., as it had 36 characters of color. We always kept in touch, and timing was just perfect for us to work together again. “Belle” had just been out, and David had received critical acclaim for his work in “Selma,” and Rosamund Pike, who plays his wife, had finished “Gone Girl.”

So David picked up the phone and said ‘I read [Susan Williams’] book many years ago, and I think this is the right time, and I think you’re the right director.’ And can I be honest – he added 'and I need you. I’m a lone black voice on this project and I needed someone who is going to understand how to navigate this.’ Then my interest was piqued. Here was my opportunity to tell a story of the places that raised me; both Africa and Europe.

I wanted to ensure that this movie reflected me as a filmmaker, so intersectionality had to come into it. I wanted to ensure that the voice of black females came into the story. Especially, when the film explores the life of a white woman who goes back to Africa to become a queen of black women.

I was worried about convincing women of color, in respect to Ruth and Seretse’s love. David and I were very sensitive about the Ruth character; we did not want her to be seen as a white savior. In the film, you’ll see how the black women in the village truly had the power, Ruth needed them as the outsider. She needed their blessings to succeed.

Amma Asante on A United Kingdom

3

Director Amma Asante on what inspired her to make Belle (2014)

Well, the story comes from the painting that emerges at the end of the film.  My producer [Damian Jones] sent me a postcard of the picture. I knew immediately that this was an unusual painting and that there was something very special about it, because I had recently been to an art exhibition in Amsterdam that was looking at the history of people of color in art from the 14th Century. 

What I learned from the show, without knowing that this postcard was ever going to fall into my lap, was that people of color were generally used as accessories in paintings. We were there to express the status of the main subject of the canvas. We’d always be positioned lower than and looking up in awe at the protagonist and never looking out at the painter. 

But in this postcard, everything was the opposite. There was Dido Belle staring out at the painter, positioned slightly higher than Elizabeth [her white cousin] whose arm was reaching out to Dido, and thereby drawing your eyes towards Dido. So, I saw an opportunity to create a story that would be a combination of race, politics, art and history. And it went from there, with lots and lots of research.