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Philippe Lacôte • Director

"Run has been driving the renewal of the film industry in Ivory Coast"

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- Cineuropa met up with Franco-Ivorian director Philippe Lacôte, who has just obtained an advance on earnings from the CNC for his second film, La Nuit des rois

Philippe Lacôte • Director

Run [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
, the first feature film by Philippe Lacôte, had a sensational debut at Cannes film festival in 2014, where it was presented in the Un Certain Regard section. Supported by the European Union, Run has revived the audiovisual industry in Ivory Coast. Cineuropa met up with the Franco-Ivorian director, who has just obtained an advance on earnings from the CNC for his second film, La Nuit des rois.

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Cineuropa: Where did you get the idea from for your second feature film, La Nuit des rois?
Philippe Lacôte:
I continued my observational work on Ivory Coast. All the action takes place in Abidjan prison, the Maka. I try to use this micro society to describe Ivorian society as a whole. A 17-year-old thief is chosen by other prisoners to tell a story all night long if he wants to survive.It's a real phenomenon. I have a childhood friend who was released from prison who told me that prisoners choose someone, whom they call the "Roman," who is forced to tell stories all night long to the other prisoners. I often work this way: I just wait for someone to give me a story.

How was the film financed?
The film has a budget of around €2 million. It's a co-production between France and Ivory Coast. We have the support of FONSCI – the Ivorian fund – which has donated €300,000 to the project. The French producer, Banshee Films, got an advance on earnings from the CNC. We have just finalised an agreement with the Canadian company Periferia, which will make us eligible for the Eurimages fund. Filming will begin in June 2019.

In terms of the film’s development, I benefited from Torino Film Lab's writing workshops, in the Script and Pitch section, which led us to win the Turin festival co-production prize.

Where will the film be shot?
Outside scenes will be shot in the prison, the cell’s interior will be a constructed set.

Who is due to star in the film?
The film will include a mix of professional and non-professional actors. There’s not much of a distinction between the two categories in Ivory Coast. There are people from the streets who have been in prison, but there are also professional actors, like Vero Tshanda Beya who starred in Félicité [+see also:
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trailer
interview: Alain Gomis
film profile
]
by Alain Gomis and who will be playing a transgender role. The film will also star Abdele Karim Konaté, who was the main character in Run.

Your previous film, Run, was supported by ACPCultures+, a program funded by the European Commission and implemented by the Secretariat of the ACP Group of States. The idea behind this funding was to boost the film industry in Ivory Coast and develop local technical skills that could be used on international productions on an ongoing basis. Do you feel like you’ve achieved this result? Are you going to work with the same technicians and the same crew that you worked with when filming Run?
The aim to develop local skills has been achieved beyond our expectations. Run has been the driving force behind the renewal of the film industry in Ivory Coast. Today, films and series are being financed and international productions are being filmed in Ivory Coast. Four cinemas complying with international standards have been built and a new festival supported by the Ministry of Culture has also been launched. The impact that Run’s financing has had on the country is evident in the fact that we are going to work with the same local teams we used before. Since Run (and thanks to Run), these teams have made three or even four films and have acquired a lot of international experience. We will also be renewing our partnership with Michel Zongo, who will introduce us to technicians from Burkina. These teams have worked on several feature films and 5 series since Run.

Africa is full of wonderful stories. Thanks to the way of our industries are structured, I think that these stories can have an international impact.

(Translated from French)

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