Lambeth-born Amma Asante ‘arrived’ in the capital this month with her newest film A United Kingdom – making her the first black female to open the BFI London Film Festival.
Before its official release in November, we had a sneak preview of the historical romance, starring David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike.
The story follows the marriage of Botswana’s first president Seretse Khama, to Ruth Williams, a white woman.
Khama and Williams met while he studied in London before returning to take up his duties as chief of the Bangwato tribe of former Bechuanaland.
But his interracial marriage was met with such controversy that Khama was banished indefinitely by the British colonial rulers after the nation’s regent, his uncle, opposed them.
The film is shot with subtlety and poise, with the hustle and bustle 1940s London scenes contrasting perfectly with the expansive and somewhat barren landscapes of Botswana.
But the real warmth and subtlety in this comes from the lead players, who despite giving emotive speeches, manage to centre the drama on their love.
Politics is beautifully balanced with the love story, as Tom Felton and Jack Davenport utilise a quick-witted script well in their portrayals of the slimy colonialists, alongside a young Tony Benn played with vigour by Jack Lowden.
But Oyelowo and Pike are the focal point of the piece.
As the Khama’s clutch one another after an impassioned speech, a small sob utters from Khama, showing that no matter how much they have or will go onto achieve, their love is the fire that keeps them going.
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