Director Amma Asante hopes telling female-led stories will be commonplace soon

By Kerri-Ann Roper, PA Entertainment Editor

Director Amma Asante said featuring female protagonists in her films has come naturally to her.

The screenwriter, 50, whose films include Belle and A United Kingdom, joins Oscar winner Olivia Colman in supporting a Bafta initiative to find local cinema heroes from across the country.

The competition, titled For The Love of Film, aims to “showcase unsung heroes” who have helped local communities engage with and access film.

Asante told PA News Agency: “The more I think about it the more I’m really clear with myself that actually I haven’t gone out and said I want to tell stories about women, it’s just been very natural to me.

“I’ve had women in my life whose stories are relevant and important, we’re not necessarily going to go out there and make films about them, but their stories have had an impact on my life and so when I come across female protagonists whose stories could make good films, it’s just really natural.

“My hope and wish would be that one day we can get to that space where that just feels very ordinary for all of us to actually just say we want to tell this story about this person because this story is really interesting and really will connect to an audience and have a great conversation with an audience, oh and they happen to be a woman”.

Amma Asante is supporting the Bafta competition (PA)

She said supporting the Bafta initiative was important because of the contribution film makes to the cultural landscape and communities.

“I support anything in general that connects audiences to film and to be involved with something that celebrates people outside of the default film industry, actually finding great and amazing ways to connect their communities to film, I just think is a really, really great thing,” she explained.

Last year’s inaugural competition was won by Dan Ellis of Jam Jar Cinema and Iain MacColl from Screen Machine, who attended the star-studded Bafta ceremony, as this year’s winners will do.

Broadcaster Edith Bowman and director Paul Greengrass are among the names on the panel of industry experts who will be considering the entries.

Colman previously cited London’s Peckhamplex as being a “brilliant example of an organisation playing a vital role in making movies accessible to their community”.

She said of the Bafta initiative: “It’s really exciting to see Bafta honour and recognise people who work tirelessly to share the joy of film with their local communities. The ‘For the Love of Film’ competition is an excellent platform to showcase the unsung heroes of the UK’s film industry.”

Details for entering can be found at bafta.org ahead of the submissions closing on December 2.

This year’s Bafta ceremony takes place on February 2.