Netflix film African Queen, which depicts Queen Elizabeth as black, was released on Wednesday amid ongoing controversy.
Egypt is telling its own story of Cleopatra. Netflix film African Queen, which depicts Queen Elizabeth as black, was released on Wednesday amid ongoing controversy. In response, Egypt has launched counterprogramming plans to tell its own version of the ruler’s story using “the highest levels of research and scrutiny.”
Al Wathaeqya, the state-backed Documentary channel of Egypt has announced plans to produce a documentary for government-owned broadcaster, United Media Services. The announcement comes days after several in the country raised objections to the Netflix film over the Queen’s skin colour.
“Starting as usual in all documentary production sector and documentary channel work, there are working sessions currently being held with a number of specialists in history, archaeology, and anthropology; to subject research related to the subject of the film and its image to the highest levels of research and scrutiny,” the channel said, according to a translation of its Facebook post.
Not just the state, but independent filmmakers too are wanting to tell a version of the Queen’s life. Director and Egyptologist Curtis Ryan Woodside also posted a 90-minute English-language documentary about Cleopatra VII on his YouTube channel Wednesday, rejecting “biased” opinions and “misinformed,” modern and American iterations of the queen that Netflix film reportedly narrates.
Woodside’s film discusses Egypt’s multi-racial society. It also features commentary from Kathleen Martinez, a Dominican archaeologist and Zahi Hawass, Egypt’s former minister of state for antiquities affairs- the two have vehemently opposed Netflix’s portrayal of the ancient ruler.
The Netflix film African Queen has been produced by Jada Pinkett Smith. In a recent interview, Hawass said that the only Egyptian rulers known to have been Black were the Kushite kings of the 25th dynasty (747-656 BC). He also debunked the theory of Black Americans who have claimed that the Egyptian civilization has Black origins and are “obsessed” with the colonization of Egypt throughout its history.
Queen Cleopatra was born in the Egyptian port city of Alexandria in 69 BC. She succeeded her father in 51 BC to rule until her death in 30 BC amid the expansion of the Roman Empire.
Experts in Egypt have stated she was Macedonian-Greek on the side of her father, Ptolemy XII. However, her maternal heritage is not clear and the ethnic origin of her mother is not clear. Historians have said it’s possible that she, or any other female ancestor, was an Indigenous Egyptian or from elsewhere in Africa.