Asante to direct ‘Belle’

Damian Jones produces period drama

Brit Amma Asante is set to direct “Belle,” with Damian Jones’ DJ Films producing.

Story, set in the 1780s, follows a mixed-race girl, adopted into an aristocratic family, who faces class and color prejudices. As she blossoms into a young woman, she develops a relationship with a vicar’s son who is an advocate for slave emancipation.

The £6.5 million ($10.1 million) budget “Belle,” which received $20,300 of development coin from the British Film Institute, is skedded to lense next summer.

Asante has re-written the latest draft of the pic from a first draft by Misan Sagay (“The Secret Laughter of Women”).

It’s Asante’s sophomore pic: she previously penned and directed “A Way of Life,” toplining Stephanie James, Gary Sheppeard and Nathan Jones, which earned her the BAFTA Carl Foreman Award for most promising newcomer in 2005.

Jones has been busy this year with Margaret Thatcher biopic, “The Iron Lady,” which the Weinstein Co. is releasing in Gotham and Los Angeles on Dec. 30 before rolling out in the rest of the U.S. on Jan. 13.

Jones is also lensing “Fast Girls,” helmed by Regan Hall and penned by Noel Clarke, about a young female runner from the wrong side of the tracks who develops a rivalry with an equally ambitious and wealthy athlete.

Jones and Film4 are producing a biopic about the Clash’s Joe Strummer, “The Right Profile,” which is looking for a helmer.

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