Period drama 'A United Kingdom', the story of a controversial romance between a white British woman and a black African royal will open this year's London Film Festival on October 5 – kicking off 12 days of film premieres from around the world. Directed by Amma Asante ('Belle') and starring Rosamund Pike and David Oyelowo, the film is set in the 1940s and '50s. But its exploration of British attitudes to race and prejudice sound particularly timely in a year when our country is battling ideas of division and hatred. The film tells the true story of the marriage between Seretse Khama (Oyelowo), a king in the southern African nation of Bechuanaland (now Botswana) who was studying to be a barrister in London, and Ruth Williams (Pike), a clerk working at the city insurance institution Lloyd's. Both the couple's families joined both the British and South African governments in opposing their union.
Diversity behind and in front of the camera looks set to be a theme of this year's London Film Festival – and beyond. Not only will the festival open with a film directed by a black British woman (yes, this is something to be noted and celebrated still in 2016) and starring a black British actor (Oyelowo), but the 12-day event will also be immediately followed by Black Star, a UK-wide season from the British Film Institute that aims to celebrate 'the range, versatility and power of black screen icons on film and TV'. We'd also be very surprised if this year's London Film Festival didn't include a centrepiece screening of 'The Birth of a Nation', Nate Parker's story of a nineteenth-century slave uprising in the US that was an audience and critical hit at this year's Sundance Film Festival in January in Utah.
The full programme for the 2016 London Film Festival will be announced in September and you'll find Time Out's full guide to the festival here.