Born in Burkina Faso but now living in Paris, director Dani Kouyate is the son of a griot, a traditional African musician and storyteller, and his 2001 feature uses a seventh-century myth to comment on the power struggles, bogus moral authority, and perpetuation of lies that still plague many African nations. An emperor, hoping to reaffirm his mandate from the people, decides to sacrifice a virgin to the python god, but the unlucky virgin goes into hiding while her soldier sweetheart rushes back from the fort to rescue her. Kouyate is rather lackadaisical in laying out his subplots (a general puts the affairs of the state above his family, court counselors conspire to suppress a madman who speaks the truth); however, in the final third the elemental power of his storytelling takes over, pulling together a spellbinding tapestry of motives and dilemmas. In Bambara with subtitles. 96 min.