Funmi Iyanda is bringing stories of acceptance to the 2019 BFI London Film Festival

This year’s BFI London Film Festival starts in October, and already the line up will parade movies from Martin Scorsese (The Irish Man), Taika Waititi (Jojo Rabbit), Robbert Eggers (The Lighthouse), and promises a spectrum of cinematic offerings that will appeal to audiences. Interestingly, Nollywood isn’t excluded as media personality Funmi Iyanda takes Walking With Shadows to the festival, her first film in the capacity of producer. The movie is an adaptation of Jude Dibia’s 2005 novel of the same name, and stars Ozzy Agu, Zainab Balogun and Funlola Aofiyebi Raimi.

Per the synopsis, Ebele Njoko (Ozzy Agu) is a respected father, husband and brother who maintains a mask to cover his homosexuality. His new self Adrian is what the world knows, but ultimately, he would have to squarely face the worlds he’s been trying to keep apart. At what cost? The trailer is anchored by heartfelt performances from Agu and Balogun, Adrian’s wife. Together, they explore a painful rift in a loving bond as Adrian’s quiet resilience throughout underlines the necessity for one to be self-loving, despite the cost.

Published at a time when conversations on homosexuality was seen as un-African – and still is – Dibia’s Walking With Shadows is a visceral portrayal of navigating society’s homophobia, and the film is a necessary addition to the Nollywood cinema boom.

Other movies premiering at the festival is Abba Makama’s sophomore feature The Lost Okoroshi, which has also been selected for this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. The movie is part magical realism and part commentary on the erosion of ancestral traditions, and puts Raymond Obinwa on a path of discovery and immersion. Obinwa is played by Seun Ajayi, and his character wakes up to find that he has transformed into the titular masquerade Okoroshi. It’s in his interaction with people as a masquerade that the movie examines, with an arty exaggeration.


Mike Omonua’s debut feature  is also headed to the London Film Festival, produced by Abba Makama. The movie tells the story of a young girl who must undergo a painful rite of passage through scarification to prepare her for adulthood and marriage. The agony she endures for a loving union finds her questioning the process. Sometime in the future, unencumbered by the traditions that exist in present day Lagos, Michelle questions her tumultuous relationship with boyfriend America.

Having recently found out she’s pregnant, with America pushing her towards an abortion and with her job on the line, Michelle also considers the sacrifices that are made for love. The Man Who Cuts Tattoos stars Valerie Dish, Omowunmi Dada, and Duke Elvis.



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