TorinoFilmLab - Training, development, Funding



Philippe Lacôte

France, Côte d’Ivoire


MACA is Abidjan’s main prison and one of the most overpopulated in all of West Africa. Built in the middle of a forest, MACA is a world unto itself, with its own language and codes. Old and sick, Black Beard is its ever more contested boss. To hold onto his power, he carries on with the tradition of the “Romancer”, a ritual where a prisoner is forced to tell stories all night long. A young pickpocket is designated.

Romancer does not know how to tell stories but he is haunted nonetheless by a tale, that of the “microbe” leader, Zama King…

project updates


Script&Pitch 2016

July 11, 2019

The project was selected for the 6th edition of Venice Gap-Financing Market, organised as part of the Venice Production Bridge.


My work as a writer/director has taken on several forms before focusing on the Ivory Coast. In September 2002, I was in Abidjan when the country was plunged in a complex conflict which was to last nearly ten years and end up in war.

Between a documentary, a diary and a personal journal, "Chronicles of War in the Ivory Coast" is the report of these days of curfew.

This film permitted me to limit the exact place from where I wished to question the history of the Ivory Coast, an intimate, subjective place. Afterwards, I worked on the same theme, but passing to the side of fiction, with the feature film "Run" (Un Certain Regard, Cannes 2014), which portrays twenty years in recent history of the Ivory Coast.

With "Zama", my intention is to continue observing this territory in crisis, in order to attempt to shed new light on its society, through the window of the main prison of Abidjan: Maca.


Subjected to to the power of the kingpins, a young man is forced to tell stories to the other prisoners. They call him "Romancer".
Philippe Lacôte

Film Director

production notes

original title

directed by
Philippe Lacôte

produced byBanshee Films
25, avenue de la République
93800, Epinay-sur-Seine

in co-production with
Wassakara Productions – Ivory Coast