Kasi Lemmons to Adapt ‘The Shadow King,’ the True Story of Female Ethiopian WWII Soldiers

     April 16, 2020

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After helming the tales of Harriet Tubman in Harriet and C.J. Walker in Self Made, filmmaker Kasi Lemmons is turning her sights to a new true story, seldom heard in our annals of history. Lemmons will be writing and directing the film adaptation of historical novel The Shadow King — a story worth telling and then some.

The Shadow King, originally written by Maaza Mengiste, tells the real story of Mussolini’s 1935 invasion of Ethiopia, and the heroic female soldiers who fought back. Of working on adapting the novel, Lemmons said this: “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 honored to be a part of bringing this brilliant book to the screen.”

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Image via Netflix

Lemmons is making the film for Atlas Entertainment (Wonder Woman 1984) alongside producers Charles Roven (The Suicide Squad) and Richard Suckle (American Hustle), and executive producers Stephanie Haymes-Roven and Curt Kanemoto (Wonder Woman). This story sounds compelling, rich, and ripe for visibility — and Lemmons feels like the perfect filmmaking fit for the material. She couldn’t crack her way into the Best Director conversation for Harriet, but if this resulting film is strong enough, it could be a serious Oscar contender.

Check out the official synopsis for The Shadow King below. We’ll keep you updated on the film as it develops. For more on Lemmons, check out my review of Self Made.

The Shadow King is a story set in 1935 as Mussolini’s army invades Ethiopia and moves towards an easy victory. Aster, the wife of a commander in Haile Selassie’s overwhelmed army, and her household servant Hirut long to do more than only care for the wounded and bury the dead. Together they offer a plan to maintain morale among Ethiopians, eventually becoming warriors and inspiring other women to take up arms against the Italians.

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