The 60th BFI London Film Festival has announced this morning that this year’s Opening Night gala film will be Amma Asante’s “A United Kingdom,” the true story of Seretse Khama, King of Bechuanaland (present-day 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.
The film, which stars David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike, will receive its European premiere on Wednesday October 5 at the Odeon Leicester Square, attended by cast and filmmakers. There will be a live cinecast from the London event and simultaneous screenings taking place at cinemas across the UK.
“A United Kingdom” is directed by Asante from a screenplay by Guy Hibbert, based on the book “Colour Bar” by Susan Williams. The cast is led by David Oyelowo as Seretse Khama with Rosamund Pike playing his future wife Ruth Williams. Other cast includes Jack Davenport, Terry Pheto, Tom Felton, Arnold Oceng, Jack Lowden and Laura Carmichael.
Clare Stewart, BFI London Film Festival Director, says: “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.”
Director Amma Asante comments: “It’s a great privilege that ‘A United Kingdom’ has been selected as the Opening Night Film of the BFI London Film Festival. 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.”
The film, which is on my 2017 Oscar predictions list, is produced by Rick McCallum, David Oyelowo, Justin Moore-Lewy, Brunson Green and Charlie Mason. 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 Guy Hibbert.
The film is a Pathé, BBC Films, BFI, Ingenious presentation with the participation of Canal + and Cine + of a Yoruba Saxon/Harbinger Pictures/Perfect Weekend/ Film United Production of a film by Amma Asante.
Pathé will distribute the film in the UK and France and will handle sales throughout the rest of the world.
The 60th BFI London Film Festival in partnership with American Express takes place from Wednesday October 5 to Sunday October 16, 2016. The full Festival program will be announced on Thursday September 1, 2016.