Once-Glittering Côte D’Ivoire Film Industry Hopes For a Sequel

ABIDJAN, Côte d’Ivoire — On a recent, overcast afternoon in this West African city, Abdoul Karim Konaté sat at a table outside Chez Dede, a low-key maquis, or sidewalk bar, with plastic tables and chairs arranged along the pavement and a waitress who rested her head facedown on the bar. Konaté recently returned from a trip to the Cannes Film Festival, in France, where the movie “Run” — the first film from Côte d’Ivoire to be selected for the competition — had its world premiere. Konaté, who plays the lead role in the film, sipped from a bottle of soda, recalling the days of “la crise” — the postelection crisis of 2011, which pushed a country still reeling from the civil war of the early 2000s to the brink of another catastrophe.

“It was very difficult,” said Konaté, a 34-year-old with leading-man looks, explaining that most of his friends and family had fled to neighboring countries. Work was hard to come by. In the working-class district of Yopougon, where Konaté now sat, he would sometimes see dead bodies lying on the street. “They were killing people outside my house,” he said.

Memories of the crisis still weigh on Konaté; in order to play the part of the title character in “Run,” he said he “remembered the things [he] saw” during the 2011 unrest and channeled them into his performance. Set in a fictionalized version of Côte d’Ivoire, the movie echoes the turbulence of that period, opening with a chaotic scene in which the prime minister is killed. But “Run” is more than just a political melodrama. Told through a series of flashbacks, it’s a coming-of-age tale about a young man who, on his journey to adulthood, is constantly forced to flee the demons of his past. In a phone interview from Paris, the film’s director, Philippe Lacôte, said of the character, “Each time he’s running away from one life to another.”…

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