ALGERIA / “La Dernière Reine” 1st Algerian film set in the 16th century


La Dernière Reine (The last queen), a first feature by Damien Ounouri and Adila Bendimerad, is the first Algerian film to show the country in the 16th century during Ottoman rule. Released in France on April 19th the film is expected in Algeria during the summer.

Written by Adila Bendimerad, the screenplay is about the rescue of Algiers from the Spanish invaders in 1516 by the corsair Hayreddin Barbarossa and his annexation of the region. It was rumoured that to win the heart of Queen Zaphira he murdered her husband, King Salim Toumi, despite their alliance. Against all expectations, the queen rejected him. Somewhere between history and myth, the film focusses on this woman’s long struggle, both personal and political, for the good of Algiers.

In an interview with TSA, the directors explain they needed 6 years’ research to write the script. “Damien and I consulted Algerian, Spanish, Turkish and French sources,” says Adila Bendimerad. To make the costumes we studied merchants’ records to find out what fabrics were used by the people of Algiers. Nothing was left to chance!”

Despite this research there is controversy about whether Queen Zaphira actually existed. Questioned about this by the TSA journalist, the directors replied they “talked to many historians” but that “opinions are mixed. Some say Zafira never existed. Others think she did and still others claim that she must have existed, but not as the person we know and not with that name.”

Produced mainly in Algeria, the film is an international co-production with France, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan and Qatar. The film is currently distributed in France by Jour 2 Fête.

Sources: TSA, Jour 2 Fête

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