Belle is the true story of a mixed-race woman born into an aristocratic British family in 18th century England. Why was it an anomaly? First of all, it was directed by a black female filmmaker, Amma Asante, and written by a black female screenwriter, Misan Sagay. Secondly, it was a period piece about a young mixed-race woman played by black actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw.
Rarely are movies directed or written by women of color and very few movies have a black actress in their lead role. Not to mention that period pieces are notorious for being white-washed, especially if they’re set in 18th century England. But Belle defied all of these conventions, making more than $10 million on no more than 525 screens after it was released last May. The only other indie movies that grossed higher this summer were Chefand The Grand Budapest Hotel.
Movies like Belle don’t come around very often. And we don’t know about you, but we’re bored of movie after movie of sad white guys directed by their sad white male friends (I’m looking at you Her and Inside Llewyn Davis, along with almost every other Oscar-nominated film).
We look at a few more movies that tell a different story.