Night of the Kings
[La Nuit des Rois], directed by Philippe Lacôte, France / Canada / Senegal / Ivory Coast 2020, 93' (English friendly)
This ritual-film invites to participate in a ceremony, in which a dramatic power struggle is won by poetry. The plot takes us to a stuffy, overpopulated labyrinth that seethes with tension: La Maca prison in Abidjan. It is a place governed by its own gangster code and its rulers who guard the fragile balance. When Roman is imprisoned, the question of succession after the weakening Blackbeard is on the table. Self-proclaimed leaders are waiting to take over, and a bloody gang war is in the air. Looking to buy time, Blackbeard orders Roman to tell tales without a break during the night. Outcast and bandit Zama is the protagonist of the story which takes us into the world of magic and myths. Under the red moon hanging over La Maca Scheherazade meets Shakespeare, but Lacôte's film is most of all immersed in local traditions (griots) and personal experiences (the director’s mother, an oppositionist, was imprisoned in La Maca). Drawing on the experiences of the Ivorians, magical and political realism in Night of the Kings merge into a universal poem about authority playing with fire: the lives of dedicated and naïve young people.