Philippe LacôteCôte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) native Philippe Lacôte’s feature film debut, "Run," made its world premiere at the 67th edition of the Cannes Film Festival last year, in the Un Certain Regard sidebar – a program created to recognize young, promising talent and to encourage innovative and daring storytelling on film, and has continued to travel the international film festival circuit, drawing critical acclaim along the way (although it is currently without an American distributor).

While that film continues to tour, the filmmaker is prepping his next feature, which will be based on the real-life story of Ivorian gang leader, Zama, who was slashed to death by fed-up locals, on the streets of Abijan, the country’s economic hub.

“Zama is a product of the war, a former child soldier who went on to become the leader of an infamous street gang. Through his trajectory, I’ll explore the Ivory Coast’s post-war era,” director Lacôte told Screen magazine at the ongoing Jerusalem Film Festival, where "Run" is screening. “The gang was made up of young people aged from eight to 20-years-old,” explained Lacote, adding, “Zama, was the son of a so-called magician. The gang members believed that if they tried to escape, the father’s ghost would track them down… The project covers the mystic, the political and the cinematic… these three elements are perfect for the way I like to make films."

Indeed. His feature film debut, the aforementioned "Run," fits quite nicely under the magical realism umbrella. In the USA, "Run" most recently screened at the NYAFF in May. Iquo B. Essien reviewed it favorably for S&A here. "Run" stars Isaach de Bankole (likely the most familiar to S&A readers; he recently starred in Andrew Dosunmu’s "Mother Of George"), Abdoul Karim Konate (he starred in Bamba Souleymane’s "Burn It Up Djassa") and Rasmane Ouedraogo (the veteran featured in films like Ousmane Sembene’s "Moolaadé"). 

By the way, a short film by director Lacôte is currently traveling with the African Metropolis initiative, which features 7 African directors, each exploring their own "African Metropolis" on film.

The filmmaker will produce "Zama" through his Abidjan-based Wassakara Productions and  Paris-based Banshee Films. He is currently scripting the tale, with plans to start shopping it around in the fall.And so a new journey begins…