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Night of the Kings

Opens on March 5
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Director: Philippe Lacôte Run Time: 93 min. Rating: NR Release Year: 2021

Starring: Denis Lavant, Digbeu Jean Cyrille, Issaka Sawadogo, Koné Bakary, Rasmané Ouédraogo, Steve Tientcheu

Country: France, Ivory Coast, Canada, Senegal
Language: French and Dyula with English subtitles

Presented in the Virtual Screening Room in partnership with Neon.

This film screened on February 2, 2021, as part of the Sundance Film Festival 2021 satellite screenings in Columbus, Ohio. Watch the Q&A replay with the filmmakers and Charlie Sextro, Sundance Film Festival Senior Programmer, here.

“An assured, energetic piece of epic filmmaking, one that celebrates how storytelling, oration, and folklore teach us about our past so we might change our present.”

– Robert Daniels for RogerEbert

About the film:

Premiered in Venice’s Horizons section. Official Selection of Sundance Film Festival and Toronto International Film Festival, where director Philippe Lacôte won one of the new Amplify Voices Awards presented to three underrepresented filmmakers with incredible feature films. Night of the Kings is also nominated for Best International Film at the 2021 Film Independent Spirit Awards, and it made the shortlist for Best International Feature Film at the 93rd Academy Awards.

A young man is sent to “La Maca,” a prison in the middle of the Ivorian forest ruled by its inmates. As tradition goes with the rising of the red moon, he is designated by the Boss to be the new “Roman” and must tell a story to the other prisoners. Learning what fate awaits him, he begins to narrate the mystical life of the legendary outlaw named “Zama King” and has no choice but to make his story last until dawn.

About the filmmaker:

Writer-director Philippe Lacôte grew up near a movie theater called “Le Magic” in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, and years later, he has become a powerful new voice from the cinematically underrepresented African continent. 

His work as a director took on several forms before focusing on the recent history of his country with the 2008 TV documentary Chronicles of War in the Ivory Coast, a film on the edge between a documentary and a diary. In 2014, his political resistance drama Run premiered in the Un Certain Regard section of the Cannes Film Festival. The film was the first Ivorian feature ever selected to premiere at Cannes and the Ivory Coast’s second submission ever to the Academy Awards.

His second feature Night of the Kings (original title “La Nuit Des Rois”) is a dive into the largest prison in West Africa during the night of a red moon.

Revisit the full Sundance Film Festival 2021 Columbus program and learn more about this film at

 See all virtual titles
Ohio Arts Council
Greater Columbus Arts Council
The Columbus Foundation
Campus Partners
G&J Pepsi
WOSU Public Media


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