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More film festival fun in Toronto with Nollywood stars

On Wed. Sept. 14, Nollywood filmmaker OMONI OBOLI had her first public screening for her film OKAFOR’S LAW at the Scotiabank Cinemas in downtown Toronto where she was joined onstage by co-star UFUOMA McDERMOTT for an audience Q&A afterwards. 20160914_224701Looking lovely in one of the gorgeous gowns supplied by Gail McInnes of Stylist Box, Omoni fielded numerous questions about her career and meeting the challenges of being a female director in a predominantly man’s world. 20160914_224645 20160914_224703 20160914_224649Ufuoma (above) sported a short sparkly cocktail dress that twinkled brightly on the stage.

Omoni then greeted fans outside the theatre, posing for selfies for nearly an hour!20160914_23063120160914_230858 20160914_23071920160914_231409And so did Ufuoma!20160914_230817Omoni was joined by TIFF/City to City Programming Associate Olena Decock, who also moderated the Q&A session, for a few photos, too.20160914_231857The fabulous Uche Jombo (below) then joined us …20160914_232443….and then once the moviegoers had left the theatre, we decided to have some fun and play!20160914_232726

Tomi Adeoye kicks up her heels

Tomi Adeoye kicks up her heels

20160914_232512The cinema’s cocktail lounge was closed and deserted so our little group took advantage of the cool lighting and views across the city of Toronto.20160914_233722 20160914_233600 20160914_233750 20160914_233900 20160914_234318 20160914_234735My one quick photo opp with Omoni….it’s been fun working with her and her cast during TIFF. This woman is a real pro and I was honoured to be a part of her film fest experience.
20160914_234813We found a lot of cool spots to take pics so every few feet it was a case of “strike a pose”!20160914_235441 20160914_235036 20160914_235323I love this pic of Ufuoma (below)….very moody, very “film noir”.20160914_235501We had waaaay too much fun but fortunately we were all able to sleep in a little in the morning after.  It’s been a blast working with these incredible women from Nigeria’s flourishing film community and I look forward to continuing the relationship once they head home. 20160914_235603 20160914_235606

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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NOLLYWOOD FILMMAKER & STAR OMONI OBOLI ATTENDS CITY TO CITY PRESS CONFERENCE @ TIFF16

Yesterday, Nollywood’s finest converged on the TIFF Bell Lightbox – HQ for the annual Toronto Int’l film Festival – where a panel of filmmakers representing Nigeria’s sizzling movie industry spoke about their films being showcased at TIFF this year, as well as the challenges involved in attracting international audiences and distributors.20160913_115247Award-winning writer~director~producer and actor, Omoni Oboli, arrived for her official portrait and a digital interview prior to joining her panel colleagues. Here she’s greeted by event security – 2 of Toronto’s finest – and she couldn’t resists grabbing a quick selfie!20160913_114614She was then escorted into the studio & green room for her official portrait.. Below,I caught her coming out of the photo booth…can’t wait to see the gorgeous portrait on the TIFF website.20160913_115909She met up with the other panelists (below) before being led into the studio that was packed with international film journalists and news outlets!

Don Omope of FilmOne prods/Distribs.

Don Omope of FilmOne prods/Distribs.

Naz Onuzo of Inkblot Prods. & Niyi Akinmolayan of The Arbitration film

Naz Onuzo of Inkblot Prods. & Niyi Akinmolayan of The Arbitration film

Olumide Iyanda

Olumide Iyanda

Moderated by TIFF creative director Cameron Bailey, the panel introduced themselves and their films, then took questions from the media. I was able to grab a few screen-caps via the green room monitor, as did other publicists.

20160913_134449 20160913_135957 20160913_13502620160913_140546After the press conference, the filmmakers enjoyed an ad hoc networking session in the greenroom where they were greeted by Toronto’s favourite son of Nigeria Masai Ujiri – the President and General Manager of the Toronto Raptors basketball team.  Here Omoni spent some time with Mr. Ujiri sharing tweets and Instagram posts.20160913_142959 20160913_143008 20160913_143107We managed to grab a quick interview for Omoni with CBC Television (Canada’s national broadcaster)20160913_144839 20160913_144926Then more friends to greet and important contacts to be made!20160913_130430(0)20160913_12090420160913_144549Thank you to all the friendly and professional staff and volunteers who guided Omoni and myself thru the press conference process. TIFF is truly a world-class festival that treats its guests with such warmth and respect.

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TIFF RED CARPET FOR NOLLYWOOD FILMMAKER OMONI OBOLI’S “OKAFOR’S LAW”

Last night, Nollywood filmmaker and superstar OMONI OBOLI presented her dark romantic comedy OKAFOR’S LAW at the Toronto Int’l Film Festival with a stunning red carpet event full of talent, glamour and sparkle! The packed house was vocal in their approval and enjoyment of the film – you haven’t been to the movies until you’ve shared a theatre with Nigerian film fans…they responded loudly to all the onscreen action with laughter, applause and gasps. The Toronto crowd loved the film, adored their actors and weren’t afraid to show it. As soon as Omoni stepped out of her car (below), a cheer went up from the line-up of eager fans who had been waiting hours to see their idols.20160912_200658 20160912_195543These adorable young fans (above) were first in line when I arrived earlier at the Isabel Bader Theatre and they were thrilled to bits when Omoni came over to say hi and take selfies with them.20160912_200728Next to arrive was the stunning Ufuoma McDermott (above), looking extra sparkly in a long blue gown (scroll down to see how glam she looked on the red carpet). And then the big man himself arrived, Richard Mofe-Damijo or RMD as he’s known by his fans.20160912_204321 20160912_204234Above, Richard joins Omoni (right), along with another stunning Nollywood VIP guest on the red carpet. And below, Omoni walks the red carpet for her photo call with the world’s media, including several Toronto-based Nigerian and African media outlets.20160912_201007 20160912_201637 20160912_204406(0)Below, Ufuoma proves that this “baby got back” showing off her fantastic physique! We’re thinking she would be ideal to portray Serena Williams in her bio-pic….hopefully  someone is writing the script now!20160912_201359The red carpet got very crowded with Omoni’s cast & crew, and many of the Nollywood filmmakers and actors participating in TIFF’s “City to City” program showed up to support her film.20160912_20474420160912_201409 20160912_204536Prior to the screening, the always charming Cameron Bailey, TIFF’s Creative Director, introduced Omoni and her cast and crew to the stage (below)….20160912_210537

Photo courtesy of Mo Vernie

Photo courtesy of Mo Vernie

…then afterwards, everyone came out on stage to rousing applause and cheers, and for a fun Q&A with the audience (below)20160912_230707 20160912_231220Then outside for lots more interviews and photo opps with the fans!20160912_233511 20160912_233611Above, brilliant cinematographer Yinka Edwards was grabbed for a few words with TV news cameras – Yinka has 3 films participating in TIFF…wow! And he is such a humble man…I’m sure he was a little embarrassed by all the applause and media kudos. Bravo, Yinka, well done.

Omoni joined the throngs of fans outside for more selfies and socializing, meeting up with old friends and even a few relatives…20160912_234010 20160912_202259Here are a few more fun pics from last night, including Patricia Bebia Mawa of AfroGlobal TV/Silvertrust Media (below)…20160912_204753 …and Vivianne Collins who hosted the official Red Carpet TV for Okafor’s Law – here I caught her setting up before all the stars arrived. 20160912_200113Ufuoma hung out with writer/director Lonzo Nzekwe, sharing social media posts (below)…20160912_203104And of course…it’s all about the shoes, ladies, right?!  Check out this sparkly gold pair worn by Tomi Adeoye, production manager for the film.20160912_201100So you have just 2 more opportunities to check out this fun movie during TIFF: Wednesday night Sept.14 at 8:45pm & Sunday Sept.18 at noon, both at the Scotiabank Theatre in downtown Toronto. All details & ticket sales can be found at www.tiff.net

Follow Omoni and her cast via Facebook.com/OkaforsLaw

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GRACE DAM OPENS HER SOLO SHOW @ URBAN GALLERY IN TORONTO

Toronto’s URBAN GALLERY turned up the a/c for the launch of GRACE DAM‘s hot solo exhibition “The Artist Unmasked” which runs until October 1st.  Family and friends turned out on the sultry Saturday afternoon to celebrate her show and sale of paintings that reflects the complexity of life, the challenge of relationships –and the connections between earth and sky.20160910_144606“My approach combines figurative and abstract elements to explore the emotions and meaning inherent in my surroundings. My subject matter, sparked by the mood and politics of the day, is then researched and studied before I attempt to capture it on canvas. My message may appeal or it may provoke –my aim is to tempt the viewer to linger long enough to tease out the meaning.”    Grace Dam

20160910_14143620160910_14172620160910_141452Fellow artist Erik Chong and his wife Jeanette (below) arrived to show support…20160910_143352…as did good friend Linda Kaplan, shown below with Grace.20160910_143150Grace’s husband, Howie, admired her work…20160910_141635…as did her lovely daughter Hillary (below)20160910_141932Below, Wayne Abell of UrbanSource Catering and KJ Mullins, publisher of Newz4U.ca were happy to come out and celebrate Grace’s grand opening….20160910_142304

The Wait 48w x 36h Oil diptych Canadian Icons (Niagara Falls diptych) 48 x 60 oil on canvas Image THE MASK by Grace Dam -oil on canvasFor further information on Grace’s paintings and gallery hours, please visit: www.urbangallery.ca/20160910_144606

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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ALEXIS BARO BURNS UP THE LULA LOUNGE STAGE FOR CD LAUNCH!

Wow, what a night! Mother Nature threw down her mic and a ton of rain on the city, but inside Lula Lounge, Afro-Cuban trumpeter ALEXIS BARO and his Pueblo Nuevo Project band tore up the stage with two sets of hot hot hot Latin jazz.20160907_201439Launching his brand new CD, SUGAR RUSH, Alexis entertained a near-capacity house with new tunes as well as many of his previous hits. In fact, to celebrate the recent release of the official video for “Eres” from his Guilty Pleasure album, Alexis was joined on stage by Cuban hip-hop artist TELMARY (below) for the first ever live performance of their song. The crowd went crazy!20160907_220330Alexis and Telmary were interviewed by AfroGlobal Television (below) …..20160907_212110….and even Snap’d newspaper (below) came out to shoot the crowd enjoying the show20160907_203500A truly memorable concert…the fans left with smiles on their faces and copies of the Sugar Rush CD in their hands! You can get your own copy or download via Alexis’ website: www.alexisbaro.comAlexis_Baro_CD_FRONT cd insideYou can also catch Alexis performing tomorrow at The Rex (9:45pm) and Saturday at The Pilot (3pm), two of Toronto’s finest live jazz venues.

Big THANK YOU to the fabulous folks at Lula Lounge – one of the best teams to work with for live music presentation and promotion. www.lula.ca/  Just look how beautiful this venue looks even without people

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NOLLYWOOD FILMMAKER OMONI OBOLI STARTS HER TIFF MEDIA ROUNDS WITH THE LOVELY FOLKS AT AFRO-GLOBAL TV & PLANET AFRICA

We had the perfect start today for Nollywood filmmaker and star OMONI OBOLI as she launched her media campaign for her film OKAFOR’S LAW, participating in this year’s Toronto International Film Festival: she enjoyed an hour long interview with Toronto-based AfroGlobal TV and Planet Africa magazine publishers.20160906_113744 20160906_120045Sitting down with show host, Patricia Bebia Mawa, Omoni (pictured below on her throne-like interview hot seat) talked at great length about being a female director and writer in what has mainly been a male domain. She also shared how she manages to maintain a fulfilling home life with her husband and children while building her career and expanding her professional horizons.20160906_120128 20160906_130347The crew and other AfroGlobal TV personalities joined Omoni for post-interview photos – as you can see she quite the hit in the studio!20160906_130536 20160906_130559 20160906_130613 20160906_130722Okafor’s Law has its world premiere red carpet next Monday (Sept.12) at 8:45pm at the Isabel Bader Theatre in Toronto. Check the official festival website for screening dates and times, and to purchase tickets online. www.tiff.net/.  And to watch this episode of AfroGlobal TV tune into Rogers channel 708 if you’re in Toronto or follow Afroglobal Television on Facebook for the video link.Okafor's Law red poster flat

 

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Cuban rapper TELMARY to join ALEXIS BARO on stage @ Lula Lounge Sept. 7th

As he launches his brand new album, Sugar Rush, next Wednesday night Afro-Cuban jazz trumpeter ALEXIS BARO is thrilled to present renowned Cuban rapper TELMARY who will join him on stage at Toronto’s Lula Lounge to perform his hit Eres (from his previous Guilty Pleasure CD). This will mark the first time Alexis has performed song live with Telmary. Check out their sultry video here:

Telmary rose to prominence in 1999 with seminal Cuban rappers Free Hole Negro. Then she joined Interactivo in 2002 and spent five years touring with the likes of Yusa, Vivanco and Del Rio and Carcassés. It was with Interactivo that Telmary developed her distinctive rapping-crooning delivery, and this collaboration helped the 26-member supergroup score an historic double win (Best Debut Album and Best Fusion Album) at the 2005 Cubadisco awards. Telmary has also played and toured with fellow Cubans Gema & Pavel, Pío Leyva, X Alfonso and Kelvis Ochoa.telmary-5_2In addition to recording and touring Telmary has started appearing in films. She played herself in both German Kral’s Musica Cubana (2004) produced by Wim Wenders’ and Benito Zambrano’s Habana Blues (2005) – just to confirm that her kind of larger-than-life talent and personality need no embellishment for the big screen.telmary-4_2

Sugar Rush was partly inspired by my last few trips back home visiting old friends and having the opportunity to perform again with some of my old schoolmates who are now touring around the world with some of the biggest names in Cuban music. It made me realize that the musical spirit is still alive in my home city of Centro Habana, and that my neighbourhood, Pueblo Nuevo, is still an inspiration to many writers and home to many musicians. By going back to my roots with this album, I’m able to pay tribute to the music I grew up listening to every afternoon, and salute those who spread the Cuban sound all around the world. Alexis Baro   

www.alexisbaro.com

ALEXIS BARO & Pueblo Nuevo Project /Sugar Rush CD release

Lula Lounge, 1585 Dundas St West, Toronto

Wed. Sept. 7th Doors open @ 7pm, Show @ 8:00pm

Tickets: $15 ea.  Available from: www.lula.ca/events

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Joanne Latimer

SHADOWTIME PRODUCTIONS PRESENTS PROVOCATIVE DARK COMEDY “AUNT DAN & LEMON” IN TORONTO SEPT. 14th

Award-winning Toronto theatre director Dan Spurgeon brings Wallace Shawn’s Obie Award-winning play Aunt Dan and Lemon to Toronto audiences next month at Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace. The play takes us into the disquieting world of Lemon, a reclusive British invalid who fills her days reading and remembering. She recounts the overwhelming influence on her life of her parents’ friend Aunt Dan, a sophisticated, passionate American scholar whose colourful stories and seductive opinions provide Lemon an escape from her unhappy family life.  Her deepening influence on the young Lemon shapes this exploration of the superficial nature of political orientation and the allure of hardening one’s heart. A forceful morality tale that is both an exquisitely painful horror story and the blackest of black comedies, Aunt Dan and Lemon examines the ease with which good and evil become reconciled in the human mind.

Program from original NY production

Program from original NY production

Shadowtime Productions is proud to present the first professional production of this poetic, deeply unsettling play in Toronto in almost 30 years. With racism, xenophobia, and authoritarianism on the rise around the world, Aunt Dan and Lemon is an uncannily timely study of how even the most literate, civilized individuals can drift en masse into depravity and justify the most obscene acts of history.

What the critics said about Aunt Dan and Lemon:

A provocative, disquieting play that slyly raises questions about the unseen links between the personal ethics of citizens and the policies of their leaders. Variety

Stimulating and demanding – the most dangerous play in town. I can’t remember the last time I saw a play make an audience so uncomfortable, and I mean that as high praise. NY Times

 Arresting and disturbing. Shawn uses shock tactics to propose unpalatable arguments. London Times

 A wondrously subversive, cataclysmic morality tale that is entertaining, infuriating, and determined to provoke its audience. Newsday

 One of the most significant plays since the end of World War II, a powerful challenge to our collective responsibility.  Daily Mail

The cast features award-winning and popular actors Joanne Latimer and Helen Juvonen in the title roles (pictured below) with Philip Cairns, Jane Hailes, Daniel Cristofori, Daniel Carter and Breton Lalama. Produced by Drew Blakeman with Set & Scenic Design by Elizabeth Traicus and Costume Design by Jenni Lee Pickett.

Joanne Latimer

Joanne Latimer

Helen Juvonen

Helen Juvonen

PRODUCTION HISTORY
The world premiere of Wallace Shawn’s Aunt Dan and Lemon was produced by the New York Shakespeare Festival (Joseph Papp, producer) at the Royal Court Theatre in London, England in August 1985, with Linda Hunt and Kathryn Pogson in the title roles and Shawn in the ensemble cast. This production opened in New York at The Public Theater in October 1985, winning that year’s Obie Award for Playwriting. The play was revived off-Broadway at the Acorn Theatre in 2004 with Kristen Johnston and Lili Taylor, and returned for a West End revival in 2009 at the Royal Court starring Lorraine Ashbourne and Jane Horrocks. Aunt Dan and Lemon has received major regional productions through the years, including at Steppenwolf (Chicago), Mark Taper Forum (LA), and Woolly Mammoth (Washington, DC). The 1987 Dora-nominated production at Tarragon Theatre was the most recent Toronto production.

Wallace Shawn

Wallace Shawn

AUNT DAN AND LEMON runs September 14th through 25th – space is limited so get your tickets NOW!!

Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace, 16 Ryerson Avenue, Toronto
Showtimes: Wed thru Sat @ 7:30pm, Sat & Sun matinees @ 2:00pm
Tickets available from www.passemuraille.ca
Media night: Thurs. Sept. 15th 

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TORONTO’S AFRO-CUBAN JAZZ TRUMPETER/COMPOSER ALEXIS BARO TO RELEASE NEW ALBUM SEPT.7

The week after Labour Day is always a very busy period – it marks the opening of the annual Toronto International Film Festival and this year, Wednesday September 7th it also marks the date for the release of “Sugar Rush”, the new album from Toronto-based composer & trumpeter ALEXIS BARO, who celebrates the occasion with a concert at Lula Lounge (1585 Dundas St West, Toronto).  Released on the G-THREE label,“Sugar Rush” showcases Baro’s vibrant Cuban roots in every original track. “The entire idea…” Baro explains, “is to pay tribute to my ‘hood and the music around me that I grew up with, influenced by my environment and perspective.”posterThe award-winning Afro-Cuban artist has performed and recorded with a variety of artists David Foster, Paquito d’Rivera, Paul Shaffer, Andrea Bocelli, Omara Portuondo, Joey DeFrancesco, Gino Vannelli, Wayne Newton and Tom Jones.  He has been the opening act for Herbie Hancock and has led his own groups on tour across Canada, Europe and the West Indies._MG_1130“Sugar Rush was partly inspired by my last few trips back home visiting old friends and having the opportunity to perform again with some of my old schoolmates who are now touring around the world with some of the biggest names in Cuban music. It made me realize that the musical spirit is still alive in my home city of Centro Habana, and that my neighbourhood, Pueblo Nuevo, is still an inspiration to many writers and home to many musicians. By going back to my roots with this album, I’m able to pay tribute to the music I grew up listening to every afternoon, and salute those who spread the Cuban sound all around the world.  

The neighbourhood of Pueblo Nuevo is in the centre of Havana and home to many of the most popular and accomplished Cuban musicians. “It’s surrounded by some of the most dangerous ‘hoods in the city and it’s this mix of social characteristics that makes Pueblo Nuevo a very interesting place to grew up and appreciate music from many perspectives.”  Alexis Baro   www.alexisbaro.comcd insideAll tracks on Sugar Rush were written by Alexis Baro (Sigueme was written with Yoser Rodroguez) and the album was recorded at Phase One & GMP Studios, Toronto and engineered by John “Beetle” Bailey & Josh Bowman. Alexis surrounded himself with some of Toronto’s finest jazz musicians who made up the Pueblo Nuevo Project including Jeremy Ledbetter (Keys), Roberto Riveron (Bass), Ahmed Mitchel (Drums) Jorge Luis Torres “Papiosco” (Bata Drums), Jeff King (Tenor Sax), Adrean Farrugia, Yoser Rodriguez (Bass)…and others.20160812_202816Baro’s passion for his home and music makes for some very exciting listening – the music transports you to the streets of Havana, filled with hot Afro-Cuban jazz riffs and melodies.  14040029_10157485285130651_8990524417047283623_nTickets are $15 per person, available in advance from Lula Lounge: www.lula.ca/events/2016/sep/alexisbaro.html
Guarantee your seat and table with dinner reservations, too.lula-lounge-logo lmac logo crop 2014

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ANOTHER GREAT “NOLLYWOOD” FILM FOR THIS YEAR’S TIFF-GOERS TO SEE

For this year’s Toronto International Film Festival (Sept. 8-18), the focus for their City-to-City program is Lagos, Nigeria – home to “Nollywood” filmmaking. One of the films being featured is 76 helmed by the multi award-winning director Izu Ojukwo, and starring Ramsey Nouah, Rita Dominic, Chidi Mokeme, Ibinabo Fiberesima, Memry Savanhu and Daniel Kanayo Daniel.IMG_3500 IMG_351076 is a love story that centers around the challenges women married to men in the armed forces go through when their husbands are captured in war. The 76 story is told using the backdrop of the Nigerian 1976 Dimka’s coup. The movie isn’t about a botched coup attempt but is clearly about the women who are courageous enough to bear a soldier’s last name. It is visually pure, emotionally engaging, intellectually stimulating and humorously therapeutic.

Six years after the Nigerian civil war, Dewa (Ramsey Nouah) a young officer from the middle belt gets entangled in a romantic relationship with Suzy (Rita Dominic) a young lady from the southeastern part of Nigeria. Their budding romance was almost ruptured by the overwhelming strains of tribalism. Now heavily pregnant, her world comes crumbling when news of her husband’s involvement in a botched coup attempt hits the headlines.IMG_3506 IMG_3505 IMG_3514You can check out the official preview trailer here:

Visit the official TIFF website for tickets, screening times and additional information on the City-to-City “Nollywood” programme

www.tiff.net/tiff/