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(aka "The Night of Truth" )


directed by  Fanta Régina Nacro
Burkina Faso/France 2004


Set in an unnamed African country, after ten years of bloody war, The Night of Truth dramatises the process of truth and reconciliation, echoing the recent histories of South Africa, Sierra Leone and Rwanda, and highlights not only the female perspective but also the subtleties and complexities of learning to live together again in trust and respect.

Genocide, raw and recent, is not far from the minds of the Nayak and Bonand peoples who have been locked in a decade of bloody ethnic conflict. Now, the President (commander of the Nayak national army) and Colonel Theo (controller of the rebel Bonand army) are determined to end the conflict. A celebration is arranged, but cynicism remains on both sides and - as the evening wears on - tension mounts. Not only have drums been banned from the musical entertainment, because, in the past, they were used as a call to arms, but many of the women, notably the president's wife Edna, cannot simply forgive and forget. The evening comes to a climax when the village jester Tomota, a Nayak-hater, indignantly decides to beat the drums during the festivities. The sound becomes a trigger that releases the feelings of distrust and fear that have been suppressed by both sides.

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. Compelling performances from a cast of mainly non-professional actors lend an eerie authenticity to film (all of the men are played by members of the Burkina army). The professional actress Naky Sy Savane is particularly 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.

Excerpt of review from BFI located HERE

Theatrical Release: July 6th, 2005 (France)

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DVD Review: BFI - Region 2 - PAL

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Region 2 - PAL

Runtime 1:35:57 (4% PAL speedup)

1.85:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 7.45 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.


Audio French, Dioula and Mooré (Dolby Digital 2.0)
Subtitles English, None
Features Release Information:
Studio: BFI

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.85:1

Edition Details:
• An illustrated booklet with essays, film reviews, an interview with Fanta Regina Nacro, a biography and filmography

DVD Release Date: April 24th, 2006
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Chapters 10



Fanta Nacro's "Night of Truth" is remarkable not only because its the first film to be directed by a woman in Sub-Saharan Africa, but also because of its unflinching look into the horrors of tribal genocide. While the film has justifiably garnered much attention for this fact, I'm not sure that its the masterpiece that some make it out to be. Don't get me wrong, it's a good film and certainly worth watching, but in my opinion it does have a few flaws (most notably a rather slow beginning and a particularly brutal murder in the film's denouement that seems rather outlandish set amongst the rest of the film's austere realism). That being said, the value of the film extends beyond its subject matter, and includes some outstanding performances by the film's principle actors (all non-professionals as the above review states!). In particular, the film's two female leads shine in their roles, personifying dual feminine aspects, one woman who wants to protect her family and another who wants to avenge her's.

Unfortunately, the image for "Night of Truth" is a little softer than most of the BFI's output. While the film is presented in a welcome anamorphic transfer, the detail is slightly lacking throughout. Overall though, the print is acceptable, if unremarkable. The colors are strong and there are no signs of artifacts and only a few fleeting damage marks here and there.

Thee audio, presented in French, Dioula and Mooré, is mastered in Dolby Digital 2.0. The sound is generally about as good as a Dolby stereo mix can sound, with high levels of crispness and clarity. What's more, there are no unwanted background noises (hisses, pops, etc.) that I was able to discern. The subtitles were clear and didn't obstruct the image.

The only extra that comes with the disc is a six page illustrated booklet that contains a new essay for the release, reprints from "Sight and Sound" and "Time Out", and a brief interview with the director.

Despite some of my quibbles with the image, the lack of extras, and a few missteps by the director, I'll still recommend the package. The performances and the second and third acts are strong enough to overcome my misgivings.

 - Brian Montgomery


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