The movie “The Night of Truth” is directed by Fanta Régina Nacro and features an imaginary country in the West African region. The title of the movie portrays the moment when people realize their true selves in their interior selves. The country has been experiencing a civil war, but after a decade a sign of peace negotiation between the two ethnic groups; Nayak and the Bonande which is headed by Colonel Theo. The negotiation aims to enhance peace between the conflicting Nayak government forces and their rebel Bonandes. Although most of the people are anticipating the peace negotiation event to materialize, there are some who are opposing the idea, and subsequently creating the tension. Therefore, the movies provide an insight of one minor event and two major events; festive event and the violent event, which symbolizes the struggle of an African country to reconciliation.
One of the significant events is the festive event prior to the peace reconciliation that is awaited to happen at one proposed night, after ten years of conflict between the two ethnic groups. However, the event is perceived as an ambitious challenge because some of the people are not willing to lay down their arms. Due to loss of lives and property some people are willing to sign the peace agreement to restore the peace in their communities. Consequently, this can be seen as the cause of the negotiation meeting. For instance, the president had lost his son after he was murdered in the war (The CW Film Foundation, 2006). Additionally, the reader of the rebel, Colonel Theo is being haunted by the memories of his inhuman actions. Consequently, the reconciliation attempt stands between the understanding and the revenge. Picturing the impact of the war between the two communities, the reconciliation meeting might either spike the revenge or the understanding. It was not easy to draft the peaceful agreement because of the tension and fear between the two parties. The government and the rebels wanted to sit down and agree to each other although it was a thought-provoking move.
In this festive event, the two conflicting parties are anticipated to celebrate the new dawn of their nation but this seems to bear no fruit but instead causes a rise of another unexpected event. The event organizers have attempted to make some precautions so as to make the celebration is peaceful, but this is in vain. For instance, the drum-beating and the dancers were not allowed because one of the worst genocide resulted from the drum beating. Although at the beginning the event was anticipated to be successful, the cloud of tension gathers in the region. This is because; the meeting brings together the conflicting parties and their years of grief, rage, bitterness, and suspicion (Nacro, 2005). Some people such as Tomoto are seemingly capable of diminishing the peace efforts with provocation and violence. She believes that civil war is similar to the parents’ act of punishing their wrong-doing children. With this ideologies and perspectives, the peace negotiation turned into a night of revenge and hence a bloodshed event. The peace efforts proved futile. Some individuals fought it difficult to accept the past and move on. Revenge seemed the best dish to these characters. The festive event turned to a night of vengeance as the revenge mission was officially announced. People had to fight for their lives as both parties failed to come up with an agreement pact.
The bloodshed night is another major event that symbolizes how the two ethnic tribes are burdened by the hatred, desire for revenge, and provocation over the years of war. Fanta Régina portrays this event in her film to show the unintended but inhuman traits that are inherent in all individuals. The two groups are not ready for the reconciliation because they are haunted by the memories of the dead souls and their unintentional actions. For instance, the dead son of the Nayak president appears to his mourning mother at the cemetery. The mother calls her son’s name, and this disrupts the minds of the other mourners in the graves. She claims that her son cannot rest until he is avenged. Consequently, the conflicts erupt that torments the Bonandes and Nayaks (Our Film Festival, 2004). This is among the factors that resulted in disruption of the peace negotiation meeting between the two communities. It was seen that reconciliation was not possible to exist while the dead are still who are supposed be at rest, are in the presence of the living.
A minor event observed in the film is when Edna, the president’s wife, begs his husband not to attend the planned reconciliation event. Edna was bitter that her only son, Michel, had been brutally murdered in a massacre between the Nayaks and the Bonandes. She was afraid that the festival could turn a war zone since both sides had scars that could be transformed into vengeance. Edna discourages the president as she asserts, "I'm scared of fear of hate." In the scenario, it turns out that Edna was afraid of her emotions but not of the enemy. President Ouedraogo convinces her that Colonel Theo would be not contented with her decision to keep away from attending the event.
On the other hand, Colonel Theo is haunted by the dreadful role in the massacre. In a fatal predictability, Edna and Theo are drawn together. Theo kneels down pleading for forgiveness but Edna chillingly responds, "Forgiveness is God's business, not mine" (Catsoulis, 2006). The event sets vengeful acts in motion, and this demonstrates that both sides were not ready to forgive each other. Edna found it impossible to overlook the past as she was haunted by the death of her only child in the massacre. The president’s wife believed that only vengeance could let her heart in peace after the demise of her son. The Nayaks and the Bonandes had engaged in a fierce battle that resulted in massive loss of lives and destruction of property. The presidency was astonished after the rebels killed their son the attack. Edna was the most hurt since she was a mother of one. This is the reason she refused to offer forgiveness to Colonel Theo because his gangs had played a significant role in the attack. Colonel Theo was surprised by Edna’s decision since it meant that both sides had to continue fighting.
The Night of Truth demonstrates the seeds of ethnic butchery and the struggle for reconciliation in an unnamed African country. Despite the fierce battles, the documentary is comprised of comic elements, such as wry humor, to lessen the tension. The climax of the movie is stimulated by the horrendous death of Nacro’s own uncle. Theo conveys a speech warning about the effects of the hurricane of war. He asserts that wars, “opens our souls, and the demons move in.” The wife, writhing in pain is expected to check on the silent drums since they could result in a mutual suspicion between concerned parties. The cathartic killing illustrates the boldness of remaining pragmatic than passionate. As a consequence, the cleansing instills hope that peace will be found.
The film demonstrates the struggle of an African country to carry successfully out reconciliation. The cruel and extreme violence had become part of the citizens’ way of life. Most of the ceremonies that aimed at bringing reconciliation proved hopeless. The residents went to a level of making blood sacrifices to appease the gods. The African country had faced challenges in its efforts to ensure that peace was restored in the region. The leaders had failed to lead the citizens in forgiving each other so that they can co-exist in peace and harmony. Despite the struggles, the Night of the Truth ends in an optimistic style. Tomota reports to his dead commander that the nation was peaceful, and the school children are learning about the elements of unity (Koehler, 2004). Despite the peace, a septic legacy of hate and fear is still prevalent, and the film keeps the audience wondering how long this peace will be sustained. The events in the dreadful war had left scars in people, and the memories could not be easily erased.
Catsoulis, J. (2006, February 3). The Night of Truth - Review - Movies - New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/03/movies/03trut.html?_r=0
Koehler, R. (2004, September 28). The Night of Truth | Variety. Retrieved from http://variety.com/2004/film/reviews/the-night-of-truth-1200530642/
Nacro, F. R. (Director). (2005). The Night of Truth [Motion picture]. Burkina Faso: Global Lens Collection.
Our Film Festival. (2004). Watch The Night of Truth, the Burkinabé Social Realism film by Fanta Régina Nacro | Fandor. Retrieved from https://www.fandor.com/films/the_night_of_truth
The CW Film Foundation. (2006). Discussion Guide: The Night of Truth. GLOBAL LENS 2006. Retrieved from http://www.iiav.nl/ezines/web/ElectricJournalHumanSexuality/1998-2005/ejhs/nigh.pdf