In what is by far one of the most exciting movie announcements of recent weeks, Pathe International will co-finance historical drama A United Kingdom, starring Golden Globe nominee David Oyelowo (Selma) and Academy Award nominee Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl), with Belle director Amma Asante at the helm. The script comes from Guy Hibbert (Five Minutes Of Heaven, Complicit) and is based upon real events.
The story centres on Seretse Khama – a royal family member in the country of Bechuanaland, which was a former English colony in South Africa. Eventually, Bechuanaland would become Botswana with Khama as its first President. The leader was a controversial figure, however, due to his marriage to a white woman in 1948. As President, he faced down a challenge from his uncle, as well as fierce opposition from neighbouring nations, due to the fact that interracial marriage was illegal in South Africa at the time.
With Oyelowo in the role of Seretse Khama, Rosamund Pike is set for the role of his wife – Ruth Williams Khama (also known as Lady Khama) – who met her future husband while he studied law in the UK. Lady Khama was a former ambulance driver in the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force at Blackheath in London and went on to serve as First Lady of Botswana from 1966 to 1980. She was renowned for participating fully in the political affairs of her adopted country, and her two sons also built political careers for themselves – with Ian Khama now serving as President of Botswana.
David Oyelowo will produce the project in addition to leading the cast, and coupled the project announcement with an explanation of his highly anticipated creative partnership with Asante and Pike.
“Amma and Rosamund are two of the most exciting talents working in film today. I’ve worked with both of them before, and so my excitement about them joining A United Kingdom stems from a knowledge of just how inspiring they are to work with, and how much daring and beauty they will bring to this epic love story.”
A United Kingdom is now a combination of formidable talents, which promises to deliver a film of great merit. Production is currently planned to begin in October, so we could well be looking at a strong entry into the elite festival circuit, and perhaps even awards season, in 2016.