Egypt has announced its own high-budget documentary about Queen Cleopatra VII, challenging Netflix’s controversial documentary about the same subject. The documentary will be produced by newly-launched channel Al-Watha’eqeya (The Documentary), according to an announcement on the channel’s Facebook page on April 30.
“Al-Watha’eqeya have started preparations for the production of a documentary film about Queen Cleopatra, the daughter of Ptolemy XII, the last king of the Ptolemaic dynasty that ruled Egypt following the death of Alexander the Great,” explains the post, indicating the documentary’s intention to highlight Cleopatra’s Macedonian-Greek origins.
The channel also highlighted its aim to provide a detailed and accurate view, primarily through sessions with specialists in archaeology, anthropology, and history.
The decision to produce an Egyptian documentary was made after the trailer release of Netflix’s tendentious ‘Queen Cleopatra’ (2023) docudrama, which casts black actress Adele James as Cleopatra.
CATCH UP ON THE CONTROVERSY
The Netflix documentary, produced by Hollywood actress Jada Pinkett-Smith, quickly became the subject of a global debate on the ethnicity of Cleopatra and Afrocentrism – a movement that intends to shed light on African history, culture, and influences. Pinkett’s production faced backlash from Egyptians and Greeks on the grounds of misleading viewers on the history of ancient Egypt’s last monarch.
Soon enough, Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities joined in the debate, when Mostafa Waziri, Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, called the documentary “a blatant historical fallacy,” in an official Facebook post by the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities.
“Since the film is classified as a documentary film and not a dramatic work, which requires those in charge of its production to prioritize accuracy and rely on historical facts to ensure that history and civilizations are not falsified,” added Waziri.
Statues of Queen Cleopatra uncovered in Taposiris Magna west of Alexandria “are the best evidence of her true features and her Macedonian origins,” argues former Minister of Antiquities, Zahi Hawass, referring to the bust of Cleopatra on display in the Berlin Museum.
WHEN AND WHERE CAN YOU WATCH IT?
Unlike Netflix’s documentary, which is set to air on 10 May, Al-Watha’eqeya has not yet announced when it will air its rendition of Cleopatra’s captivating life.
Al-Wataha’eqeya is a free satellite channel available to all viewers in Egypt, under the control of United Media Services, Egypt’s largest media conglomerate.