Award-winning filmmaker Amma Asante cites The Color Purple as one of the films that influenced her life and career.

Amma Asante
Amma Asante and Edith Bowman – (C) Photographer: Steve Youll

In an intimate chat with presenter Edith Bowman during the final episode of Life Cinematic, BBC Arts’ in-depth exploration of film, BAFTA-winning screenwriter and director Amma Asante candidly talks to presenter Edith Bowman about the films that influenced her most throughout her career.

One of her choices is Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of Alice Walker’s novel The Color Purple, which she credits as a watershed moment in film and without which her international breakthrough film Belle may never had been made.

“…Spielberg has the career that I wish we as women and particularly people of colour and women of colour could get to have.”

She said: “Without The Color Purple there probably would be no Belle. And what I mean by that is what Spielberg was able to do was to get so called mainstream audiences, which predominantly means white audiences, to walk in the shoes of a Black woman for two and a half hours and coming out of it feeling OK, actually feeling like they had seen a great movie. And once that was achieved, I think it became a tiny bit harder for the world of film to say ‘it’s very hard to sell movies with Black women as the leads and with Black characters as the lead’ and so I’m always intrigued by it for that reason, because for me it was a bit of a watershed.”

“…an ideal world would be one in which there were lots of movies about lots of different types of Black women, and lots of different types of Black guy…”

During the in-depth interview, Asante also called for more diversity behind the camera, saying: “I think there’s always a question about who gets to tell whose stories and who gets to tell what stories and why. And in many ways Spielberg has the career that I wish we as women and particularly people of colour and women of colour could get to have. And that is that you find a story that interests you and you find a story that resonates with you for whatever reason, and a story that you believe you have the capacity to tell and you tell it. And I think an ideal world would be one in which there were lots of movies about lots of different types of Black women, and lots of different types of Black guys and many of those stories were also told by Black people.”

Read our “Where Hands Touch” by Amma Asante review

Life Cinematic is a series of television specials delving into the art of filmmaking. Each episode features an interview with a renowned filmmaker, together with a selection of classic clips that have influenced their life and career. Amma Asante’s choices also included epic classics like Goodfellas and to intimate, emotional greats like Damage and Hidden.

Amma Asante
Film director, Amma Asante directed two Mrs America episodes

During the discussion, Asante also discusses her international breakthrough film Belle and the process she adopts when choosing and making the film projects she is renowned for.


Watch Amma Asante: Life Cinematic on BBC iPlayer.

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