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Un jeune délinquant est amené à la Maison d'arrêt et de correction d'Abidjan (MACA), qui a la particularité d'être officieusement dirigée par un détenu, le Dangôro. Ce dernier, connu sous le nom de Barbe Noire, sait que la maladie mine son autorité et qu'il devra bientôt mettre fin à ses jours, comme l'exige la règle. Dans l'espoir de repousser cette échéance, Barbe Noire décide de raviver un anicien rituel et désigne le nouveau venu comme « Roman », personnage chargé de divertir l'assemblée. Tandis que la nuit se lève et que dans le ciel luit la lune rouge, les captifs entrent dans une frénésie incontrôlable. Objet de l'attention de tous, Roman devra puiser dans son imagination pour raconter une histoire dont la chute, s'il souhaite rester en vie, ne pourra survenir qu'une fois l'astre éteint.


When a young man is incarcerated in Côte d’Ivoire’s largest prison, La MACA, he 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, the prison is really ruled by Blackbeard (Steve Tientcheu). On his last legs, and seeing his power waning, Blackbeard makes one final play to maintain his power over the prison: on the night of the red moon, he designates MACA’s newcomer “Roman.”


In a griot role that recalls Scheherazade in One Thousand and One Nights, Roman (Koné Bakary) must recount a story until the sun rises if he wants to keep his life and stop the prison from falling into chaos. Roman spins a story 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.


With his sophomore feature, writer-director Philippe Lacôte refuses all genre expectations, flowing between a prison drama and visually stunning sequences that depict Roman’s elaborate tale. Further incorporating song and dance (and a cameo by Denis Lavant), Night of the Kings is a mesmerizing meditation on the art of storytelling and its role in survival.

  • Year
    2020
  • Runtime
    93 minutes
  • Country
    Côte d'Ivoire, France, Canada, Senegal
  • Director
    Philippe Lacôte
  • Screenwriter
    Philippe Lacôte
  • Cast
    Bakary Koné, Steve Tientcheu, Jean Cyrille