A small-time criminal (Koné Bakary) is incarcerated in “LA MACA,” an Abidjan prison in the middle of a forest in Ivory Coast with its own laws and ruled by the prisoners. The other inmates are very hostile and immediately, the young man fears for his life. But Blackbeard (Steve Tientcheu), the prison leader who is sick and struggles to hold the reign, chooses him as the new “Roman,” the prison storyteller. When the moon in the sky turns red, the man must invent his own tale. He chooses to tell the story of Zama King, a murderer, an idol for the rest of the inmates. But as his story is nearing the end, he learns that if he finishes his tale, he will be killed. For this reason, he needs to keep his story going so that his fellow prisoners, simultaneously reenacting parts of his tale, do not get bored. As the night progresses, danger and tension increase. And imagination and creativity overflow.
This co-production between Ivory Coast, France and Canada places the viewer in a terrifying prison lost in the middle of a lush Ivorian forest. The only activity that keeps the inmates away from violence is listening to tales and acting out the stories that the storyteller makes up. Oral tradition, stories that are transmitted from generation to generation, is an essential subject in African filmography. Here, it takes a new direction, mixing theater, madness, violence and corruption. La Nuit des Rois is a brutal and poetic film that won’t leave anyone indifferent. It has already won awards in Toronto and Chicago, and it received a nomination at the Oscars and the Independent Spirit Awards.