8 Nigerian movies will be showing at Toronto – 5 takeaways from this historic feat

by Tolu Omoyeni

The Toronto International Film Festival is big, why it’s one of the biggest in the world. Up until this moment, the TIFF would not make news in this part of this world, like Nigeria hardly has business over there. The narrative has taken a different turn now, Nollywood is making an appearance at the Toronto International Film Festival. Let me rephrase that statement: New Nollywood is making a massive, never-before-seen appearance at the TIFF this 2016 as 8 Nigerian movies will be showing . Our initial perceptive was that the humans of New Nollywood are leaving no stones unturned but now we can tell these one are here to move mountains.

The 8th edition of TIFF’s City to City Spotlight will be focusing on Lagos. The artistic director of the festival, Cameron Bailey said: “Vital, complex and inspiring, Lagos is entirely unique”. Some of the cities that have gotten this kind of attention in the past are London, Mumbai, Seoul, Tel Aviv, Athens and Istanbul. Our own  Lagos is next. See God!

Before we faint out of excitement, here are 5 takeaways from this historic feat:

– Someone is obviously a pipeline: We strongly suspect that there’s someone in the background pulling all the necessary strings to make this work. The Nigerian music industry has the big boss promoter, Paul O, CEO of Upfront & Personal who has helped put Naija music on the global map over the years and especially with the recent One Africa Music Fest in the US. Our guess is that Nollywood has an Oga Paul kind of person somewhere making big things happen and the hell, (s)he’s doing a great job. Kudos! We need more people like this who know how to open international doors.

– Nigerians are getting stories right: We’ve seen Dry, October 1st, The Arbitration, Wives on Strike to name a few, these are movies with brilliantly told stories that tackle real life issues. There’s no denying, we are finally getting it right story wise in Nollywood. Or new Nollywood. We have to constantly draw the line because some people are still on a “dead” location, at the moment shooting a movie about why university babes like to use iPhone 6. It’s appalling. The few people that have made that switch from mediocrity to absolute excellence are the ones being recognised at the Toronto International Film Festival. If the story is good, it will get noticed. Its really simple.

– Production values are stepping up: Gone are the days when a proper Nigerian movie took only 4 days to film, edit and release. People are putting in quality work and we see it. The quality of actors, directors, cinematographers and other professionals who come together to make our movies is top notch. It is prominent in their results and how it has earned them an enviable spot in the the prestigious film festival. This also might be a bit about funding, telecommunication and multinational companies have invested a lot in new Nollywood in the past half-decade. The influence of people of powerful media personalities who know their onions, like Mo Abudu, has been of great help too.

– Nollywood actors and actresses are doing work work work work work: There’s a new generation of them, Adesua Etomi, Damilola Attoh, Lala Akindoju, OC Ukeje and a few others. There’s also the refined oldies who have improved on their craft over the years, Richard Mofe-Damijo, Sola Sobowale, Iretiola Doyle, Funke Akindele, Dakore Egbuson and many many more. Then, there’s the ones who are crossover actors from music and comedy, Banky W, Ali Baba, Ayo Makun(AY) and most recent surprise, Ikechukwu Killz. Who knew these guys had it in them? But they’re doing incredibly well and are changing the face of the game. The international recognition is well-deserved, to be honest.

– We are finally going international: In case you still don’t get what this gist has been about all along. 8 of our movies here in Nigeria will be showing at an international festival. It’s not Cannes, yes but we are on the path to that peculiar greatness. Let’s enjoy the exposure Toronto brings, then we can plan our journey to Cannes and who knows, the Oscars too!

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