Part prison drama, part fairy tale, this film about storytelling is captivating in every sense of the word.
“When God says yes, no one can say no.” This slogan is written on a wall in Maca, a notorious penitentiary in the forest of Côte d’Ivoire which the inmates have taken over. The prisoners are rough with each other, yet they admire the supreme art of storytelling. As their tradition goes, with the rising of the red moon, a newcomer — this time a young pickpocket — is chosen by their ailing boss to tell a story to the other prisoners. Learning what fate awaits him, the boy begins to narrate the mystical life of a legendary outlaw named Zama King and has no choice but to make his story last until dawn. Based on the real-life Maca, director Philippe Lacôte has created a violent, magical cosmos all his own, turning a prison drama into a fairy tale. The boy recalls both Scheherazade from “1001 Nights” and the griots who maintain Africa’s oral tradition.
You'll find a Q&A with LA NUIT DES ROIS director Philippe Lacôte here.
Meet the director
Philippe Lacôte grew up in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire’s largest city, near a movie theater called Le Magic. In 2008, he presented CHRONICLES OF WAR IN THE IVORY COAST, a short film that dealt with the recent history of his home country in a hybrid format: part documentary, part diary. His first feature film, RUN, was selected for the Un Certain Regard section at Cannes in 2014, establishing him as a new voice in African cinema. NIGHT OF THE KINGS is his second feature film.