In Night of the Kings, storytelling is a life force and an act of self-preservation. A wild odyssey from writer-director Philippe Lacôte, this captivating contemporary tale draws upon the tradition of the griot, a West African storyteller whose role elevates leaders and kings.
Incarcerated in La MACA, Côte d’Ivoire’s largest prison, a young man (Koné Bakary) finds himself entering a world as dangerous and complex as the one he was navigating on the outside. While ostensibly overseen by a team of rundown guards, in truth, Blackbeard (Steve Tientcheu) rules over the inmates. But with his power waning, Blackbeard makes one final play to maintain his control: on the night of the red moon, he designates the newcomer “Roman” and appoints him MACA’s new storyteller. Quiet and introverted, Roman must now recount a tale until the sun rises if he wants to keep his life and stop the prison from falling into chaos. Roman spins a tale about Zama King, a notorious gang leader whose life spanned from ancient times to the fall of Ivorian president Laurent Gbagbo and was filled with intrigue and magic.
Night of the Kings challenges all genre expectations, flowing between a prison drama and visually stunning sequences that depict Roman’s elaborate story. Further incorporating song and dance (and a cameo by Denis Lavant), prepare to be enthralled by this energetic meditation on the art of storytelling and its role in survival.
Canada, Cote d'Ivoire, France, Senegal