The first trailer for “Night of the Kings,” Ivory Coast’s official submission to the Oscar race, beautifully blends African mythology and fairy tales with the grim reality of life inside one of the country’s most infamous prisons.
David Oyelowo, who joined the film as an executive producer Friday ahead of the film’s screening at Sundance, called “Night of the Kings” a “magnificent showcase of African cinema, artistry, culture, folklore and myth.” The trailer shows the film’s protagonist stepping up to a soapbox to tell a story to the whole prison that begins with “Once upon a time…”
Neon will be releasing “Night of the Kings,” which comes from director Philippe Lacote and tells the story of a young man on his first night in the infamous Ivorian prison La Maca. Upon arriving, he is christened the “Roman,” or “Storyteller,” and must entertain his audience until morning, risking death should he fail. Under a blood-red moon, he crafts a tale weaving together the country’s mythological past and recent history, while around him, prison politics threaten to boil over.
“Night of the Kings” already played at Venice, Toronto and the New York Film Festival ahead of playing again at Sundance this weekend. It recently landed a Spirit Award nomination for Best International Film and nabbed a spot among the National Board of Review’s Top 5 foreign language films.
Lacote wrote and directed the film, which stars Koné Bakary, Steve Tientcheu, Rasmane Ouedraogo, Issaka Sawadogo, Digbeu Jean Cyrille, Abdoul Karim Konate, Anzian Marcel, Laetitia Ky and Denis Lavant. It’s produced by Delphine Jaquet, Yanick Letourneau, Ernest Konan, Yoro Mbaye and Banshee Films, Wassakara Productions, Peripheria and Yennenga Productions.
“Philippe Lacote and his talented cast have forged a tale that defies definition by telling us a story within a story within Ivorian history,” Oyelowo said in a statement. “To be a part of bringing this film to its audience is a profound honor for me.”
“Night of the Kings” is the third movie Ivory Coast has ever submitted to the Oscars, after “Black and White in Color” from 1976 and Lacote’s first film, “Run,” from 2014.
Neon is releasing the film in limited theatrical release on Feb. 26 followed by a VOD release on March 5. Oyelowo is represented by CAA, Hamilton Hodell and Del Shaw Moonves Tanaka Finkelstein & Lezcano.
Check out the trailer here and above.