An Egyptian documentary network has pledged to create its own documentary on the life of Queen Cleopatra in response to an upcoming Netflix film that has sparked controversy across the nation. Cairo-based channel Al Wathaeqya announced their intention to collaborate with the documentary production division of Egypt’s United Media Services, an initiative dedicated to providing an accurate portrayal and promotion of Egyptian culture and history.
In a statement to the Egypt Independent, the filmmakers unveiled their plans to present the true story of Queen Cleopatra VII, the daughter of Ptolemy XII and the last ruler of the Ptolemaic dynasty that governed Egypt following the death of Alexander the Great.
The statement elaborated, “In keeping with the usual approach of the Documentary Production Sector and Wathaeqya Channel, work sessions are currently being held with a range of experts in history, archaeology, and anthropology.” Al Wathaeqya is committed to conducting thorough ‘subject research related to the film’ and depicting both the film and Cleopatra in accordance with the ‘highest levels of research and study’.
This decision to produce a documentary on one of Egypt’s most iconic rulers comes in the wake of Netflix’s release of a trailer for their own forthcoming documentary, which has incited widespread disapproval across the Arab nation and has become one of the streaming platform’s most disliked trailers to date.
An Egyptian lawyer has even filed a lawsuit against Netflix for their decision to portray Cleopatra as a Black woman, demanding legal action against the creators of the show and calling for the streaming service to be shut down in Egypt.
In response to the criticism, director Tina Gharavi defended her casting choice, stating that the likelihood of Cleopatra being white was ‘somewhat unlikely’. Gharavi embarked on a search for ‘the right performer’ to play the queen and ultimately cast Adele James, a Black actress.