2013 is set to be the year British African Carribean talent dig their stake even further into the film industry here in the UK and in the states with four mainstream films scheduled for global release.
Steve McQueen's Twelve Years A Slave, about an living in New York during the mid-1800s is kidnapped and sold into slavery in the deep south and starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Ruth Negga, Adepero Oduye, Alfre Woodard, Lupita Nyong'o, Paul Dano, Benedict Cumberbatch, Brad Pitt, Michael K. Williams, Paul Giamatti, and others.
No word yet on a release date for the film; but it's tipped to be a festival and critic favourite with an expected debut at Cannes before making the rounds at all the name brand film festivals before its general release in USA cinemas in the Autumn.
Next up is Chiwetel Ejiofor, who is not only starring in Steve McQueen's Twelve Years A Slave, but he's also been cast in the film adaptation of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's critically acclaimed novel Half Of A Yellow Sun set in 1960's Nigeria and based on the end of colonialism, ethnic allegiances, class and race - and about the ways in which love can complicate all of these things.
If that wasn't enough Chiwetel will also be seen in Savannah, another film epic based on real events post post-Civil War/slavery days, in which Chiwetel plays a freed slave named Christmas Moultrie, who strikes up a business relationship with legendary Ward Allen, an Aristocrat-turned-market hunter played by Jim Caviezel. The film is loosely based on a book by John Eugene Cay, Jr., titled, Ducks, Dogs and Friends, which tells the story of Christmas Moultrie (the last slave born on the historical Mulberry Grove Plantation, where the Cotton Gin was invented), who hunted on the Savannah River, together with Ward Allen, and his Chesapeake Bay Retrievers. Release is scheduled for some time this year.
Lastly, writer/director/producer Amma Asante's period drama, titled Belle, about the trials and tribulations of a mixed-race girl, in the 1700's, which stars Gugu Mbatha-Raw who plays Belle, Miranda Richardson, Tom Wilkinson, Sarah Gadon, Sam Claflin, and Matthew Goode is also expected to debut in Cannes.
Belle takes place in the 1780's, and is based on the true story of Dido Belle, the illegitimate daughter of John Lindsay (a white British Naval officer) and an African slave woman who Belle was named after. Adopted by an aristocratic family in England Belle has to endure class and color prejudices whilst living her new life. Along the way she develops a relationship with a vicar's son who is an advocate for slave emancipation. The project which is being supported by the British Film Institute, also co-stars Tom Felton (Harry Potter), Sam Reid (playing Belle's love interest), James Norton and Penelope Wilton (Downton Abbey).