Thursday 15 March
The Night of Truth
La Nuit De La Vérité - Fanta Régina Nacro 2004
In an unspecified country in Africa, after ten years of bloody war, the Nayaks, the President's ethnic group, and the Bonandés, rebels supporting Colonel Theo, come together for a feast to celebrate the peace agreement. But the reconciliation festivities are overshadowed by the terrible barbarities that have been commited on both sides.
Open 20:00 | Film 20:30
Burkna Faso | 2004 | French, Dioula and Mooré with English subtitles | 100 minutes
The Night of Truth was conceived in memory of Fanta Nacro's uncle, accused of inciting a coup, and who was murdered in a horrifically brutal way. This all too real grotesque scene makes part of the climax of the film. Nacro: "What is strange is that people who see the film think that the barbecue scene is something invented, exaggerated - but that is exactly what happened to my uncle." To mirror the full horror of his ordeal, the action is confined, more or less, to a period of 12 hours. "The dead are everywhere". Images of violence recur with an ugly insistence. Disturbingly, for a squeamish western audience desensitised to screen violence, lingering shots of characters eating grubs can seem almost as repellent as those of dismembered body parts.
The cast of professional and non-professional actors are compelling in their performances An eerie authenticity is given to the film as all of the men are played by members of the Burkina army. The professional actress Naky Sy Savane is outstanding in her role as Edna, who is grief-stricken over her son's death and harbours a bitter lust for revenge. Her brooding performance conjures an atmosphere of sinister foreboding, demonstrating the extent to which official peace deals are undermined by the lasting psychological wounds inflicted by war.
Fanta Nacro was the first woman from Burkina Faso to direct a fiction film (the short Un Certain matin) and The Night of Truth, which has won awards at film festivals around the world, is a stunning example of the rise of African women filmmakers, bringing a new voice and perspective to African cinema.
"Wherever I've shown the film - whether in San Sebastian, in France, Palestine or in the United States, or even at the Cambridge film festival - the audience's reaction has been to find something in it that mirrors their own experiences. People have started watching it as if it were simply an African film, and then slowly, with the development of the story, they start to think about their own difficulties of resolving conflict."
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