Amma Asante Shows that Period Films Can (and Should) Center Black People

A United Kingom

Actress Thandie Newton argues that “historical dramas ‘limit UK Black actors’.” Churning out endless projects about the royal family and the so-called “good old days” isn’t doing Black actors any favors. …”Historical/period drama” is one of the worst genres for inclusion of Black characters, with a whopping 80% of such films having no named roles for Black actors whatsoever. …Period dramas and Black stories aren’t mutually exclusive, as Amma Asante shows us in ‘Belle’ and her latest film, ‘A United Kingdom.’

Interracial Relationships: The Roundup

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Check out all of the posts from our Interracial Relationships Theme Week here.

Colorism and Interracial Relationships in Film: ‘Belle,’ ‘The Wedding,’ & More


The colorism Dido experiences is seen throughout different Western societies that had Black African enslavement as part of its world. Many stories of colorism also exist in American history and folklore and we see how it impacts romantic relationships and in American film and TV.

The Female Gaze: The Roundup

Channing Tatum is reunited with Matt Bomer and Joe Manganiello in 'Magic Mike XXL'

Check out all of the posts from our Female Gaze Theme Week here.

The Female Gaze: Dido and Noni, Two of a Kind

Belle 3

Directors Amma Asante and Gina Prince-Bythewood illustrate that when a story is told through the eyes of the second sex, themes, such as romance, self-worth, and identity are fully fleshed out. By examining an 18th century British aristocrat and a 21st century pop superstar, it proves that in the span of three centuries, women still face adversity in establishing a firm identity, apart from the façade, amongst the white noise of societal expectations.

Bitch Flicks’ Weekly Picks


Check out what we’ve been reading this week – and let us know what you’ve been reading/writing in the comments!

‘Ackee & Saltfish’: There Are Other Narratives to Explore

poster ackee

We need new filmmakers like Cecile Emeke to break new ground with digital media. Smash the stranglehold of white filmmakers being the only ones telling Black stories that often dredge up old stereotypes and tired narratives. We need the specificity of Emeke’s vision. And dammit, I need more Rachel and Olivia in my life.

“Colorblind Casting,” Whitewashing, and the Erasure of PoC Histories

Norm Lewis as Javert in Les Miserables

Thus, theatre erases the histories of People of Color in Europe by claiming that they use “colorblind casting” instead of just “casting” when they cast a Person of Color in a role that, historically, could have been a person of color. Meanwhile, TV and film European period pieces erase that history by Whitewashing it, not casting and thereby not providing employment to, or visibility and representation of, actors who are People of Color at all.

Rosie O’Donnell and Gina Prince-Bythewood Attend the Athena Film Festival

Rosie O'Donnell

“The movies we screen here tend to be unfiltered,” Barnard President Debora Spar told me on the red carpet of the Athena Film Festival Saturday night. “They’re powerful. They’re different voices. And we just want to provide a platform to get those voices out there.”

The Gaze of Objectification: Race, Gender, and Privilege in ‘Belle’

Movie poster for Belle

What does it mean in a young woman’s life to be constantly stared at and treated as “the Other”? ‘Belle,’ directed by Amma Asante and written by Misan Sagay, has a lush, gorgeous look from the costumes to the landscape, and throughout this new film we, too, are invited to “look,” and to understand that “the dominant white male gaze” is related to power in 18th-century England. An actual 1779 portrait currently hanging in Scone Palace, Scotland, credited to artist Johann Zoffany, is at the heart of the complex ‘Belle,’ as is the issue of race.

Writer Misan Sagay Talks About Her Jane Austen-Like Heroine in ‘Belle’


Sagay discovered the subject of her Jane Austen-like drama a decade ago when she viewed the 18th century portrait by an unknown artist of a beautiful, biracial woman standing next to a blond, a woman in a pink brocade gown, in the galleries of Scone Palace in Scotland. The blond woman reaches out to the other woman who is slightly above here in the picture, and who wears a silk gown and an exotic headdress. She has a twinkle in her eye and exudes life and even has a sense of mischief. You cannot take your eyes off her.

‘Belle’: A Costume Drama Like and Unlike the Others


People of color are often omitted from historical dramas (except to play slaves or servants), with the rationale that it’s not “realistic” to have them in the cast. We can see through this excuse in historical dramas in which casting people of color would match the story being told, but white people still have the biggest roles in–and sometimes even make up the entire cast of–the film, as in the recently released ‘Noah.’ Historical “realism” is not always what we think it is: literature and visual art through the ages confirm that people of color who weren’t slaves, like Alexandre Dumas the author of ‘The Three Musketeers,’ have been in Europe for as long as people have lived there. We need to see more of their stories onscreen.