Netflix's Black Hannibal ignites controversy in Tunisia

Netflix's Black Hannibal ignites controversy in Tunisia


The controversy did not wait until the first day of filming. In Tunisia, the announcement of the upcoming production of a film on the Carthaginian general Hannibal Barca is divisive. The main cause is the choice of American actor Denzel Washington to play this historical character. For some, the famous African-American actor would be too old and above all too black to represent Hannibal. Beyond the reactions on the casting of the film which will be directed by Antoine Fuqua, but of which neither the filming nor broadcast dates on Netflix are known, the scenario is also a cause for concern for Tunisians, determined to preserve the The image they have of the man who is considered one of the greatest military strategists in history, who died between 183 and 181 BC.

The debate, initiated on social networks and in certain media, reached Parliament. Thursday, November 30 at the Assembly of People’s Representatives (ARP), while the budget of the Ministry of Cultural Affairs was under discussion in plenary session as part of the 2024 finance law, MP Yassine Mami questioned Minister Hayet Ketat Guermazi on the Netflix project. “We have no information on the content. There is a risk of falsification of history , he said. The ministry should have a position on the subject. » For Mr. Mami, also president of the tourism, culture and services committee, it is a question here of “defending Tunisian identity” and hearing “the reactions of civil society” .

“Propagating Afrocentric ideology”

“It’s fiction, it’s their right. Hannibal is a historical character, even if we are all proud that he is Tunisian […] What could we do? » replied the Minister of Culture, who sees in this American blockbuster an opportunity to give visibility to her country. “What matters to me is that they can shoot even one sequence in Tunisia and have it mentioned,” she says. We want Tunisia to once again become a filming platform for foreign films. » In the past, the country has in fact hosted numerous filmings such as that of Raiders of the Lost Ark, by Steven Spielberg, The English Patient by Anthony Minghella or even the first four parts of the Star Wars saga by George Lucas. Unlike Morocco, which has become a popular destination for film production, Tunisia has not been able to capitalize on its experience.

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