Ghanaian-born British Filmmaker, Amma Asante will direct the upcoming film adaptation of Drama thriller ‘The Billion Dollar Spy’ by David E. Hoffman.
The movie tells the story of a man who became the Pentagon’s most valuable spy during the last years of the Cold War. Despite numerous rejections by a cautious CIA on the lookout for undercover KGB agents, Adolf G. Tolkachev, the chief designer at the USSR’s Research Institute of Radio Engineering, handed over tens of thousands of pages of highly classified documents to the U.S.
Tolkachev quickly became the crown jewel of the CIA’s spy network, though in return, his greatest ask was for gifts for his son. For years, Tolkachev and his handler successfully eluded the KGB in its own backyard, until the day came when a shocking betrayal put them all at risk.
The film is scripted by Ben August, and will be produced by Walden Media and Akiva Goldsman. Greg Lessans of Weed Road will be the executive producer, and Naia Cucukov overseeing the project for Walden Media.
“We are so proud to have Amma at the helm of this prestigious project. She is an incredibly talented director who will bring her unique vision and experience to this film.” said Frank Smith, president/CEO of Walden Media.
Amma Asante was born in London to Ghanaian parents.
She trained at the Barbara Speake Stage School. Kwame Kwei-Armah, Michelle Gayle and Naomi Campbell were some of her schoolmates.
Asante was a member of the cast of BBC’s Grange Hills, and also appeared in other productions in the late 80’s and early 90’s.
She owns Tantrum Films, and was head writer for BBC2 series Brothers & Sisters.
She speaks fondly of her relationship with her dad, who died during the filming of Belle. In an interview with The Guardian, she said her dad was loving but strict.
A saying by her dad “What is right can never be impossible” was included in the above-named film.
What matters to Asante is “passion for the project and a vision. As a director, you are the only person carrying the bigger picture and every tiny detail. It is about keeping a cohesive, creative, motivated vibe going.” she told The Guardian in a 2014 interview.
She was invited by the prestigious Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to join its class of 2016 in its push for diversity at the Oscars after severe backlash in previous years.
She made history as the first Black Female Filmmaker to open the 2016 BFI London Film Festival in its 60 years of operation with her movie A United Kingdom.
Asante and the cast of the movie received a standing ovation when it premiered at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).
The movie is based on the true story of Botswana’s first president, Seretse Khama (played by David Oyelowo), who fell in love with a London office worker, Ruth Williams (Rosamund Pike), who became the First Lady of Botswana.
News organizations including BBC, The HollyWood Reporter and The Guardian gave the movie a rating of at least 4 star. The Daily Mail called the film “unmissable…one of the best films of the Year.”
It was Asante’s third feature film in about twelve years.
‘A Way of Life’ (2004) was about a group of white teenagers who persecute and eventually murder their Turkish Muslim neighbour.
The film won UK Film Talent Award at the 2004 London Film Festival and 16 other international awards. It won Asante the Carl Forman Award at the 2005 BAFFTA (British Academy of Film andTelevision Arts)
The critically acclaimed ‘Belle’ released in 2014, tells the story of the illegitimate, mixed-race daughter (played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw) of a British admiral who played an important role in the campaign to abolish slavery in England.
TV Mogul Oprah Winfrey tweeted about the movie after watching it, urging her followers not to miss out on the movie. The movie earned Asante a spot as one of CNN’s Leading Women of 2014, and was also chosen by BAFFTA as a ‘Brit to Watch’.
In between ‘A Way of Life’ and ‘Belle’, Asante worked on a number of projects including researching Europol to create an Uber policeman character on a studio project.
She is married to the male Europol agent she met whilst working on the research.
“I was researching Europol agents because I was trying to create an uber policewoman. Europol is the FBI of Europe – or so I am told – and the man I was sent to meet was Soren Pedersen, spokesman for European police in The Hague,” she told The Guardian in 2014.
“Soren and I had one date and decided to move in and get married. I know! I’m a crazy woman. But I looked at him and thought: ‘he is going to be my husband. And I didn’t want to waste time because I was 37 and didn’t have time to waste.”
In 2017, Asante was honoured with an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for her contribution to film.
Her upcoming movie is ‘Where Hands Touch,’ a British romance drama war starring Amandla Stenberg and George MacKay.
Asante is repped by CAA, United Agents and Mosaic.