The global stage is set for one of the world’s most prestigious film festivals – the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), commencing today, September 7, in Toronto. TIFF is renowned as one of the ‘big five’ film festivals on the global cinematic calendar, joining the ranks of Venice, Sundance, Cannes, and the Berlin International Film Festival.
This illustrious 10-day festival will showcase diverse films representing an impressive 70 countries worldwide. Among the nations taking center stage is Nigeria, thanks to the creative contributions of screen icon Genevieve Nnaji and the accomplished Nigerian-Canadian writer, director, and producer Lonzo Nzekwe.
These filmmakers have made significant waves, securing spots for their films in various festival sections, emphasizing imaginative storytelling, exceptional performances, and innovative filmmaking.
Orah by Lonzo Nzekwe
Orah, a riveting revenge drama, bears the signature of Lonzo Nzekwe, a Nigerian-Canadian luminary renowned for his directorial prowess at IronFlix. His previous works, including Anchor Baby, Meet The Parents, and Orah, have garnered acclaim. The latter will feature in TIFF 2023 as part of the Industry Select program, catering to accredited buyers during the festival and international audiences alike.
Join us at #TIFF23 for a thought-provoking #Microsession panel that uncovers the making of 'Orah,' a Canadian crime thriller that took shape through a remarkable cross-border collaboration between Canada and Nigeria. Don't miss it at #TIFF2023 #OrahMovie #Orah #NigeriaCanada pic.twitter.com/5fNo6WIonM— Orah Movie (@OrahMovie) September 1, 2023
Nzekwe’s collaboration with Circle Blue Entertainment, Freddie Films, and IronFlix Inc. on Orah has resulted in a fusion of Nigerian and international talent. The film boasts a remarkable ensemble cast featuring Oyin Oladejo, Tina Mba, O.C Ukeje, Lucky Onyekachi Ejim, Oris Erhuero, Somkele Iyamah-Idhalama, Kelechi Udegbe, Morgan Bedard, and Christopher Seivright.
The tale unfolds in two distinct settings, with the first principal photography in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada, followed by a second unit shot in Lagos in November 2022. Nzekwe’s dedication to this project is evident, having nurtured the idea since 2011, with producers Floyd Kane (Diggstown) and Amos Adetuyi (The Boathouse) joining the team later in the journey.
Orah introduces us to the enigmatic Orah Madukaku, who flees Nigeria after a fatal altercation in 2005, leaving her son, Lucky, behind. Seventeen years later, Orah is an undocumented immigrant working as a cabbie, taking her on a path entangled with an attorney and his Nigerian client. Their involvement in international money laundering propels Orah into a mission of vengeance triggered by her son’s tragic demise.
In an exhilarating social media update, Nzekwe announced the film’s selection at TIFF, expressing his gratitude to the exceptional cast and crew from Canada and Nigeria.
I Do Not Come To You By Chance by Genevieve Nnaji
Genevieve Nnaji, the iconic screen diva who has ventured into writing, producing, and directing, returns to TIFF after nearly six years since her directorial debut, Lion Heart, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival.
While Lion Heart gained recognition as Nigeria’s first ‘Netflix Original film’ and secured a nomination for the Best International Feature Film category at the 92nd Academy Awards, it faced disqualification due to language criteria issues. Despite this setback, Nnaji, a recipient of the national honor award of Member of the Federal Republic (MON), had not ventured into filmmaking again since ‘Lion Heart.’
I Do Not Come To You By Chance marks her third production as a producer, with her debut being the 2015 feature titled Road To Yesterday. This latest offering is an adaptation of Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani’s 2009 debut novel, offering an engaging narrative delving into familial responsibilities, Nigerian email scams, and the individuals behind these operations.
The film, directed by Ishaya Bako and featuring Paul Nnadiekwe and renowned Nollywood actor Blossom Chukwujekwu, promises an insightful cinematic experience. Co-written by Chika Anadu and Ishaya Bako, Nnaji serves as co-producer alongside Chioma Onyenwe and her longtime manager and partner, Chinny Carter.
Scheduled screenings for Nnaji’s movie at TIFF indicate that it will be shown today on September 7, with subsequent showings on September 9, 10, 13, and a final showcase on September 16 at Scotiabank Theatre Toronto. As the festival unfolds, Nigeria’s presence in global cinema is sure to be a captivating talking point, and these films will undoubtedly be at the forefront of the discussion.