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TIFF 2020: “Night of the Kings”


Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

International cinema offers multiple perspectives through a variety of stories that we would not know otherwise. With film like “Night of the Kings”, it takes the viewers to an interesting and scary journey, to a place none of us would wish to be in yet must be transported into, through our small or big screens.

A young boy is sent to the MACA prison, which has its own code and laws. As it is located in the middle of the jungle, the prisoners are the ones who own the prison. It has its Supreme Master named Dangoro and when the Dangoro is severely sick, he must commit suicide. When the Red Moon comes out, there is a rule that a story must be told. A new prisoner is elected to be the storyteller, who does not realize that by the time when he ends his story, he will be, most likely killed.

From writer/director Philippe Lacôte, “Night of the Kings” captures the harsh realities of prison. Especially, if that prison has no law or order. The scene where a young gay inmate is forced to get naked, and put into a circle while all other man would giggle or laugh at him particularly send shivers to the spine. Who knows how would that gathering end if not for the appearance of the Dangoro that was about to make an announcement?

That said, “Night of the Kings” is an impressive piece of filmmaking that will please anyone who likes international cinema. It is sharp, refreshing, well acted and engaging and certainly worthy of your attention.

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