Fresh off her Harriet Tubman biopic Harriet, filmmaker Kasi Lemmons has set her sights on another often overlooked piece of history. Lemmons will write and direct the film adaptation of Maaza Mengiste‘s historical novel The Shadow King.
The book tells the real story of Mussolini’s 1935 invasion of Ethiopia, and the heroic female soldiers who fought back. Together, they offer a plan to maintain morale among Ethiopians, eventually becoming warriors and inspiring other women to take up arms against the Italians.
Lemmons said of the project: “Maaza Mengiste‘s mesmerizing novel takes my breath away. The imagery is so rich and powerful and the characters so vividly drawn, it naturally lends itself to adaptation. I’m very honoured to be a part of bringing this brilliant book to the screen”.
Lemmons sounds like the perfect director to adapt this story. She’s always been interested in hidden aspects of history. Along with Harriet, she also directed the 2007 film Talk To Me, which was about Washington D.C. radio personality Ralph “Petey” Greene, an ex-con who became a popular talk show host and community activist in the 1960s.
She also just directed the Netflix limited series Self Made, a fictionalised depiction of mogul Madam C. J. Walker and how she become America’s first black, self-made female millionaire.
The Shadow King sounds like another fascinating dive back into the past. While Lemmons didn’t get in the Best Director Oscar conversation for Harriet, The Shadow King has a premise that should make waves around award season when the film eventually arrives.