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Night of the Kings

R Released Feb 26, 2021 1h 33m Drama TRAILER for Night of the Kings: Trailer 1 List Night of the Kings: Trailer 1 Night of the Kings: Trailer 1 2:15 View more videos
96% Tomatometer 106 Reviews 63% Audience Score Fewer than 50 Ratings 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. Read More Read Less Watch on Fandango at Home Buy Now

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Night of the Kings

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Critics Consensus

A restless and riveting fable, Night of Kings sees writer-director Philippe Lacôte in full command of his craft.

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Critics Reviews

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Huw Oliver Time Out The film may be hard to follow -- CGI elephants stampeding in one minute, IRL news footage appearing the next -- but it's gloriously inventive too. Now, have you heard the one about the Ivorian prison? Rated: 3/5 Jul 28, 2021 Full Review Mark Kermode Observer (UK) Its vivid, genre-fluid investigation of the alchemical art of storytelling definitely hits the mark. Rated: 4/5 Jul 25, 2021 Full Review Fred Onyango Little White Lies It asks a lot from the viewer, but pays them back two-fold Rated: 4/5 Jul 21, 2021 Full Review Josh Parham Next Best Picture The heightened imagination makes this environment feel detailed in a textured way, especially when one sees glimpses of the vivid story being told. Rated: 7/10 Jun 5, 2022 Full Review Victoria Luxford City AM Almost mythical in its telling, Night of The Kings feels unlike anything in cinemas at the moment. Sidestepping the conventions of modern cinema, it's a tense 90 minutes that throws you out at the end, taken aback by what you've just witnessed. Rated: 4/5 Mar 3, 2022 Full Review Ernesto Diezmartinez Cine Vértigo A prison drama like you have never seen, more interested in the act of telling stories than in the stories that take place inside the prison. Rated: 2.5/4 Oct 7, 2021 Full Review Read all reviews

Audience Reviews

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Rebekah S In a chaotic prison run by inmates, order is observed in an odd custom: one man must tell a story through a blood moon night and die at its end. In this gritty Scherazade tale, the unlucky young man's unlikely protector is a purportedly "cracked up" outsider on the inside who sports an Oscar-worthy chicken on his shoulder. A poignant film superbly acted, "Night of the Kings" begs the question: if we abandon the customs on which rules are grafted, could we stray outside our self-made prisons and breath fresh air? Rated 5 out of 5 stars 06/17/23 Full Review mr m Really great film which is defintley of the magical realism genre, which I am a fan of anyway, Rated 5 out of 5 stars 03/31/23 Full Review john s BEDTIME STORY When survival means keeping a dangerous, unruly, and captive mob at bay with an overnight tall tale, it better be good. "Night of Kings" is a riveting, theatrical Ivory Coast prison film that eschews physical action in favour of a flowing, Shakespearian drama. Run by an aging overlord dubbed Blackbeard, this cramped world capsule on the verge of anarchy is a clever analogy of larger systems beyond these walls. Their ruler is in trouble, with his health failing he must hold off the warring factions hungry for power, and he chooses a fresh inmate to cast a spell of procrastination with a red moon story. His new "Roman" is tasked with enrapturing the heaving masses until the moon sets, a feat that will spare his life. Though based on fact, the story within the story about the revered Zama King, is enriched with magical fiction which serves to engage the itchy inmates who prove a tough but eager audience. The oral tradition of history is a fascinating one, and "Night of Kings" shows how an effective messenger can develop the plot for various means. As rival gangs scramble in their quest for power, velvety rich colours pierce the shadows of the MACA prison transforming the harsh institution into a vibrant stage. For one night at least. Will the messenger survive the night? What really happened to the Zama King? Who will seize power? Patience, patience. - hipCRANK Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars 03/30/23 Full Review isla s This is an intriguing story and it may make you think about the tribal cultures of people from the area. I thought it was fairly engrossing, seeing what happened, even if the chronology is jumped about a bit. Of course it is fairly grim, given the setting (in a prison) and everything. I liked the almost communal singing and the scenes depicting locals in their tribal costumes and the like. There's a local legend type feel to it in part. This is a film with a definite sense of threat looming throughout but that kept me watching, even though it isn't exactly the cheeriest watch, certainly. I thought its a good bit of world cinema, yes. Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars 03/31/23 Full Review Audience Member A pretty profound film. Creative, and interesting it was appealing to me do to the fact it takes place on the Côte d'Ivoire, with scenery in Abidjan. The protagonist seems to demonstrate uncouthness and is noticeable immediately to the leader of the inmates. He is a diminutive figure and is treated as such. The movie is a little hard to follow, however still is a captivating work of art. Rated 4 out of 5 stars 02/19/23 Full Review Darryl M A gripping, imaginative movie set in the Ivory Coast, Night of the Kings centers on a young criminal named Roman who is forced to use his imagination to survive two nights in a lawless jail. In reality, our Roman (the title of a storyteller, our character's proper name is never given) is little more than a pawn in a bigger game of jail politics as the overlord plays a dangerous game to hold onto power as he physically weakens. What proceeds is a fascinating tale-within-a-tale as the Roman desperately weaves real life and fantasy to pass the time and remain alive. The setup and execution of this film is brilliant in its use of storytelling as the narrative intercuts between the story being told and life inside the jail. Barry Kone as the Roman, the storyteller of the movie does an incredible job, transitioning from confused and helpless to confident to desperate as he spins his plates and lays his anecdote. The prison's Dangoro, or overlord, played by Steve Tientcheu is a quiet, brooding man wasting away as he feels his power slipping. Tientcheu plays the character smaller than his large frame suggests, sitting or laying down the majority of the time tethered to an oxygen tank. While he doesn't get much screentime, his presence is felt throughout as some inmates scheme against him and others furiously protect him. Lacote's second outing after 2015's politically charged film Run, Night of the Kings shows no signs of a sophomore slump. He wastes little time getting to the point, dumping the Roman in the thick of things, leaving him, and by virtue us, confused and bewildered as events play out around him. The mixture of hardened criminals, prison politics, and world-weary wardens flesh out the world of this prison as a grimy gulag, a spot in the middle of nowhere where all the inmates have to look forward to is stories. The power and seduction of storytelling is the very heart of the matter, as inmates eagerly assist the Roman, acting out bits of his story in a sort of mimed improvisation that gives us a peek into not just the imagination of the Roman, but the imagination of these criminals as well. The story within the story told is a muddled mess, a result of a kid who's putting together any and everything in a desperate attempt at holding their attention. Directed wonderfully by Lacote, he makes you feel the dirt and the grime of the place, the desperation of the inmates for a good story and the desperation of the overlord, playing this final hand to keep his supremacy. Overall, The Night of the Kings is well worth the time spent watching. An ode to storytelling itself, and how stories are shaped and molded, it's rife with all the necessary ingredients: great characters, great visuals, and ticking clocks. A fascinating story, wonderfully acted by both the actual actors and the inmates within the film, and perfectly paced at 93 minutes makes this a quick, engrossing, enjoyable film that will you leave you wondering what other stories this region of the world is capable of. Rated 4 out of 5 stars 01/25/22 Full Review Read all reviews
Night of the Kings

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Cast & Crew

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Movie Info

Synopsis 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.
Philippe Lacôte
Delphine Jaquet, Ernest Konan, Yanick Létourneau
Philippe Lacôte
Production Co
Yennenga Productions, Banshee Films, Wassakara Productions, Peripheria Productions
R (Nudity|Language|Some Violent Material)
Original Language
French (France)
Release Date (Theaters)
Feb 26, 2021, Limited
Release Date (Streaming)
Mar 5, 2021
1h 33m
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