A BEAUTIFULLY shot piece of period cinema by Amma Asante casts a stark light on the debate over the abolition of slavery in England through the small snapshot of high society drama.

Captain Sir John Lindsay (Matthew Goode) brings his illegitimate mixed race daughter Dido (Lauren Julien-Box) to England and entrusts the child to his aristocratic uncle, Lord Mansfield (Tom Wilkinson), while he returns to sea.

Unimpressed as his wife may be, the Lord allows his great-niece to become a constant companion to her cousin, Elizabeth (Cara Jenkins).

Years pass, and Lady Elizabeth (now played by Sarah Gadon) prepares to seek a wealthy husband.

While Dido (now played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw) is afforded certain privileges by her lineage she must remain behind closed doors at important gatherings.

Soon, idealistic lawyer John Davinier (Sam Reid) will open Dido’s eyes to the barbarism of slavery ...