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The Woman King's Gina Prince-Bythewood Wants To Tell Another Story From African History - Exclusive

"The Woman King" is a film in the tradition of classic Hollywood historical epics. However, it's dealing with a history that Hollywood has never touched before: the Agojie women warriors who fought for the kingdom of Dahomey against the Oyo Empire in the 1820s.

African history as a whole is something that's gone wildly overlooked in Hollywood. While there are criticisms to be made about how "The Woman King" handles this history, particularly in regard to soft-pedaling Dahomey's longer-lasting involvement in the slave trade, just seeing it on-screen at all in a high-quality production is cause for excitement. Hopefully, the film will be successful enough to inspire filmmakers to tell more stories from African history.

Looper spoke with director Gina Prince-Bythewood ahead of the premiere of "The Woman King" at the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival. We asked her if there's any other story from African history that she would particularly like to either see made into a film or make herself as a follow-up to "The Woman King." Her answer is a particularly movie-ready story from the African diaspora.

A Haitian Revolution film is a dream project

Prince-Bythewood said, "One of my dreams certainly is the story of Toussaint Louverture and what happened in Haiti against the French. That is one of the dream projects." Toussaint Louverture was one of the leading generals of the Haitian Revolution, the successful uprising against slavery in the French colony of Saint-Domingue, which lasted from 1791 to 1804 and led to the founding of the modern nation of Haiti. (Louverture died under arrest a year before the revolution was won.) A Louverture biopic is something Bythewood has expressed interest in over the years; she even named one of her sons Toussaint (via Shondaland).

Such a story would have some interesting connections to that of "The Woman King" and potentially act as a corrective for some criticisms of the film. Louverture's family specifically was forced into slavery by Dahomey's imperialist expansions in the Allada kingdom (via Toussaint Louverture Historical Society), which would require a framing different from the depiction of Dahomey as the underdogs fighting back against other empires in "The Woman King." Such a film could also include some heroic historical Agojie warriors as characters: Victoria Montou is one of Haiti's "founding mothers" (via the French Library).

"The Woman King" is now playing in theaters.