The Hollywood Reporter announced yesterday that Walt Disney Pictures is producing a 'Princess of North Sudan' film based on the real life story of a little girl from Virginia who became the princess of North Sudan.
If you're unfamiliar with the story and trying to place the country of North Sudan, don't worry, you didn't miss that day in Geography. The area now known as the Kingdom of North Sudan is called Bir Tawil and remained "unclaimed" until last year when Emily Heaton asked her father if she could become a real princess, and he went out and got her a country to preside over--by country, I mean "800 square miles of desert" between Egypt and Sudan. The family still lives in Virginia, but plans to use the Kingdom to build a sustainable farming system for Africa with the help of an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign.
Screenwriter Stephany Folsom is now working on a script for a film inspired by Emily and her father's story, described as "focusing on the relationship between the father and daughter set against a backdrop of a fantastical adventure." Many have responded to the film with outrage, saying it reeks of colonialism and "literal white entitlement."
Stephany Folsom responded to the critique on her Twitter account saying,
In a series of additional (now deleted) tweets, she also defends herself with the following:
Agree w/everything people are saying. Wouldn't write that story. But if you want to focus your hate on me, go for it. #PrincessOfNorthSudan— Stephany Folsom (@StephanyFolsom) May 14, 2015
There is no planting a flag in Sudan or making a white girl the princess of an African country. That's gross. #PrincessOfNorthSudan— Stephany Folsom (@StephanyFolsom) May 14, 2015
I've been to the Sudan. The people there are amazing. Colonialism is bulls**t. Hope you all have a beautiful night. #PrincessOfNorthSudan— Stephany Folsom (@StephanyFolsom) May 14, 2015
We'll have to wait and see what comes of The Princess of North Sudan, but right now things look pretty shaky. Hopefully this controversy sends the film back to the drawing board.