BFI London Film Festival to open with A United Kingdom
by Naman Ramachandran
- 60th edition of festival unspools 5-16 October
Amma Asante’s A United Kingdom [+see also:
film profile] will be the Opening Night gala at the 60th edition of the British Film Institute (BFI) London Film Festival (5-16 October). The film tells the true story of Seretse Khama, King of Bechuanaland (modern Botswana), and Ruth Williams, the London office worker he married in 1947 in the face of fierce opposition from their families and the British and South African governments. Asante (Belle [+see also:
film profile]) directed from a screenplay by Guy Hibbert (Eye in the Sky [+see also:
film profile]), based on the book Colour Bar by Susan Williams. David Oyelowo (at his best in Selma) leads the cast as Seretse Khama with Rosamund Pike (who turned heads in Gone Girl) playing his future wife Ruth Williams. Other cast includes Jack Davenport (Kingsman: The Secret Service [+see also:
film profile]), Terry Pheto (Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom [+see also:
film profile]), Tom Felton (known for the Harry Potter saga), Arnold Oceng (Adulthood [+see also:
film profile]), Jack Lowden (’71 [+see also:
Q&A: Yann Demange
film profile]) and Laura Carmichael (television’s Downton Abbey).
Clare Stewart, BFI London Film Festival Director, said, “Amma Asante’s A United Kingdom is testament to a defiant and enduring love story that also reveals a complex, painful chapter in British history. We are proud to be opening the 60th BFI London Film Festival with a film of such contemporary relevance, one that celebrates the triumph of love and intelligence over intolerance and oppression, and that confirms Asante as a distinctive and important British filmmaker.”
Asante said, “The festival means a lot to me personally, having showcased my very first film, A Way of Life, here and been honoured with the UK Film Talent Award. I'm a proud Londoner and in A United Kingdom we’ve been able to film in some of the most beautiful parts of the city as well as in the wonderful landscapes of Botswana.”
Rick McCallum, Oyelowo, Justin Moore-Lewy, Brunson Green and Charlie Mason produced. The film is executive produced by Pathé’s Cameron McCracken, BBC Films' Christine Langan, the BFI’s Ben Roberts, Ingenious Media’s Eleanor Clark Windo and Hibbert with the participation of Canal+ and Cine+ and is produced by US companies Yoruba Saxon, Harbinger Pictures and Perfect Weekend, and Czech outfit Film United. Pathé will distribute the film in the UK and France and will handle sales throughout the rest of the world.
The full festival programme will be announced on 1 September.