As the annual Inside Out LGBT Film Festival winds down, the parties are still going strong and last night, URBAN SOURCE CATERING made sure everyone was well-fed at the “Behind the Curtain: Todrick Hall Pink Carpet” soiree held at the Artscape Sandbox venue in downtown Toronto. There were lots of tasty Moroccan beef sirloin hors d’oeuvres (above), veggie samosas and smoked salmon on wild rice cakes(below) ….. …and Jerk Prawns and Chicken Rendang skewers (above), all of which were gobbled up by appreciative guests. The deelish gourmet mac-n-cheese (below)were a big hit with the guests.…and the guests had fun at the wacky photo booth – wonder what digital background was being added..hmmm?Meet our Executive Chef Lyndon Wiebe (below L) with his trusty kitchen staff who kept the food coming!I also had fun over at the bar where I found these upside down glasses reflecting all the colours of the event space lights and people’s outfits.If you would like to have your party or corporate event catered by Urban Source Catering, please visit their website for menu ideas: www.urbancatering.com
Last night (Tues. May 30), my culinary friends at URBAN SOURCE CREATIVE CATERING tickled the tastebuds of some 150 guests at the Inside Out/Toronto LGBT Film Festival Centrepiece Gala Reception presented at the Artscape Sandbox in downtown Toronto. And oh boy, did they ever deliver some delicious treats …. The cheerful and efficient Inside Out volunteer waiters were barely out of the kitchen door before guests reached out for the trays of hors d’oeuvres…and yes, the wild blue and pink lighting created some pretty funky effects! …so I ambushed the serving crew as they exited the kitchen to get more “normal” lighting…LOL! The shrimp were a big hit, especially with this excited guest (below) The fabulous well-stocked bar was provided by Stud Vodka and Inside Out, offering wine, beer and smart cocktails served by bartenders who were always on the lookout for thirsty party-goers….Lots of fun, food and photo opps for all…. Wayne from Urban Catering posed at the photo wall with colleague Cybele (below) in between schmoozing with guests and Festival organizers …..Inside Out/Toronto LGBT Film Festival runs to June 4th in downtown Toronto and you can learn more about the films, filmmakers and social activities at www.insideout.ca Congratulations on a job well done, Urban Source Catering…your food and kitchen staff were terrific. For more details on Urban’s menus and special events catering, please visit: www.urbancatering.com
All gone….no more….go home!
My friends at URBAN SOURCE CATERING did themselves proud last night when they treated the sponsors and corporate partners of the Inside Out Film Festival to a medley of tasty treats and refreshing party cocktails and wines.Below, Urban Source Catering’s co-owner Wayne Abell welcomed the Festival’s newly appointed Exec. Director, Andria Wilson, to URBAN GALLERY…
…and Andria, in turn, welcomed Inside Out’s special guests to the pre-Festival launch party such as Kelly from RBC (below R with Brad Campbell, Dir. of Corp. Sales for the fest).Andria got busy with social media postings along with colleagues Clayton and Andrew (LtoR, below)Delicious bite-sized treats were served along with wine, cocktails and non-alcoholic bevvies by the catering staff below) Andria enjoyed a few nibblies with the guests……and enjoyed the festivities with colleagues Winnie Luk (below L), the Dir. of Operations & Events, and Andrew Murphy (below R) Dir. of Programming.Then it was time for the presentation and teaser trailer of upcoming festival films Congrats to Marketing & Outreach Mgr, Clayton Lee (below R) and tech assistant CJ (L) for helping present the video.Brad’s assistant, Nick (below R) posed for a quick snapshot with Festival Coordinator Jayne Schneider (L) in front of photographic art being featured in this year’s CONTACT show at Urban Gallery……and below, gallery owner Calvin Hambrook lined up the guests for even more photo opps.As many guests observed, the table decorations were elegant and colourful… If you’d like to learn more about the Inside Out Film Festival and see this year’s line-up of LGBTQ-focused films, please visit their website: www.insideout.ca
And if you’d like to learn more about the fabulous catering offered by Urban Source Catering and the exquisite adjoining venue available for corporate & private rentals, Urban Gallery, please visit their websites: www.urbancatering.com ~ www.urbangallery.ca
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. Looking 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. Ufuoma (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! And so did Ufuoma!Omoni was joined by TIFF/City to City Programming Associate Olena Decock, who also moderated the Q&A session, for a few photos, too.The fabulous Uche Jombo (below) then joined us …….and then once the moviegoers had left the theatre, we decided to have some fun and play!
The 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. My 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.
We found a lot of cool spots to take pics so every few feet it was a case of “strike a pose”! I love this pic of Ufuoma (below)….very moody, very “film noir”.We 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.
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.Award-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!She 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.She met up with the other panelists (below) before being led into the studio that was packed with international film journalists and news outlets!
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.
After 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. We managed to grab a quick interview for Omoni with CBC Television (Canada’s national broadcaster) Then more friends to greet and important contacts to be made!Thank 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.
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. These 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.Next 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. Above, 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. 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!The 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. Prior to the screening, the always charming Cameron Bailey, TIFF’s Creative Director, introduced Omoni and her cast and crew to the stage (below)….
…then afterwards, everyone came out on stage to rousing applause and cheers, and for a fun Q&A with the audience (below) Then outside for lots more interviews and photo opps with the fans! Above, 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… Here are a few more fun pics from last night, including Patricia Bebia Mawa of AfroGlobal TV/Silvertrust Media (below)… …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. Ufuoma hung out with writer/director Lonzo Nzekwe, sharing social media posts (below)…And 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.So 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
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. Sitting 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. The crew and other AfroGlobal TV personalities joined Omoni for post-interview photos – as you can see she quite the hit in the studio! Okafor’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.
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. 76 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. You 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
The reigning queen of the Nigerian film industry – known as “Nollywood” – OMONI OBOLI is bringing her latest film OKAFOR’S LAW to this year’s Toronto International Film Festival next month. The multi award-winning director, writer, producer and actor will enjoy a world premiere red-carpet screening for her romantic comedy on Monday Sept. 12th at 8:45pm at the Isabel Bader Theatre located in Yorkville where TIFF was first founded. Omoni’s hoping this will be the start of N. American audiences and studios getting to know her and her work. Hollywood has been complaining loudly about the lack of opportunities for women directors, especially women of colour but Omoni has been making her own opportunities in Nigeria; her previous 6 films have raked in over a quarter billion Naira (Nigerian currency) at the box office. Omoni began her career with her first movie role in ‘Bitter Encounter’ (1996) then in ‘Shame’. She then went on to play the lead female character in three major movies; ‘Not My Will’, ‘Destined To Die’ and ‘Another Campus Tale.’ She took time away from the biz to complete her university education and get married but after ten years, cinema called her back.
Since then, Omoni has shot to prominence as the class act of Nollywood because of her professional demeanour and strong work ethics. Playing lead roles in blockbusters like ‘The Figurine,’ ‘Anchor Baby’, ‘Being Mrs Elliott’, ‘Feathered Dreams’ and Mo Abudu’s ‘Fifty’ has set her apart as one who knows how to choose good screenplays. She has also set the bar higher by being the first actress from Nollywood to bag such international awards as Best Actress in two international festivals in the same year (2010) – the Harlem International Film Festival and the Los Angeles Movie Awards for her lead role in the movie, ‘Anchor Baby’. She’s pictured below with castmate, the late Sam Sarpong (L) and Anchor Baby director Lonzo Nzekwe (R) at the Toronto premiere.Omoni has won and also been nominated for several other awards, both locally and internationally. The movie, ‘Anchor Baby’ currently has the record for the longest running African movie in the UK cinema for the year 2011 and the longest running Nigerian movie in the UK cinemas in history. She wrote, directed, produced and starred in the movie, ‘Being Mrs Elliott’ which happened to be her directorial debut. ‘Being Mrs Elliott’ was chosen as the opening movie at the 2014 edition of the ‘Nollywood Week in Paris’, and it is the first Nigerian movie to be screened at the new Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, ASO Rock. Her movie ‘The First Lady’ which recently screened at The Nollywood Week Festival in Paris won the highly coveted ‘Audience Choice Award’ which is the only award at the festival. Her recent ‘Wives On Strike’ garnered great reviews from both fans and critics and was hailed as the comedy of the year.
Director’s Statement: The idea for Okafor’s Law came on a fine evening during dinner and drinks with friends. I happened to be the only woman in the group and the conversation was very ‘male’ in tone and subject. Somehow, we started talking about our exes and how most guys felt they could always go back and have sex with their old girlfriends even after a relationship had long ended. It was apparently a belief widely known in Nigeria as ‘Okafor’s Law’ It was a very interesting conversation and emotions ran high. At a point, one of my friends turned to me and said ‘Omoni you are a filmmaker. Why don’t you make a movie about Okafor’s Law’. I looked at him and said ‘why not?’ The idea was born! I couldn’t get it out of my mind. I talked back and forth with those friends, getting all their thoughts on the subject. I initially contacted a writer because I was busy with other projects, and we talked about the story. Somehow, I never got a script from him so a couple of months later, I decided to write my story myself.
Apart from the main theme of ‘Okafor’s Law’, the movie takes us through a journey of love, passion, infidelity, violence and forgiveness. It’s also laced with humour which is a common thread in my movies. I love to take people into the world of my movies and make them forget for almost two hours, their own lives. Omoni Oboli, 2016FILM SYNOPSIS: Chuks (aka Terminator) is an ardent player with the ladies. He enjoys the attention of women, including girlfriends from the past. He believes that once a man has had a woman, he forever has access to her. When challenged by his friends to see if he can prove the universality of that theory with three ex-girlfriends from his school days within 21 days, he accepts it. Turning on his best charm he sets off to try and prove himself, but his quest brings him to three women, Ifeoma (Fifi), Kemi and Ejiro, whose situations in life have changed drastically since school days. This challenge of their various new statuses makes his quest to win the bet more and more insurmountable as he tries to prove the immutability of the age-old law, OKAFOR’S Law.
Okafor’s Law also stars African screen favourites Blossom Chukwujekwu, Ufuoma McDermott, Toyin Aimakhu, Ken Erics, Gabriel Afolayan and the “George Clooney of Nollywood” Richard Mofe-Damijo (below)You can find out more about Okafor’s Law from the official TIFF website where you can also purchase screening tickets www.tiff.net/tiff/ Look for the special City to City programme which features Lagos and the talented Nigerian filmmakers who call that city home.
Did you know that Nollywood (Nigeria’s bustling film industry) is second only to Bollywood (India) when it comes to film production? And both are head and shoulders above Hollywood’s annual output of cinematic product – surprised? When it comes to filmmaking here in Canada, we’re constantly bombarded with US films and television influences and we do tend to forget about the rest of the world and their creativity. But this year, TIFF is shining the spotlight on Nollywood with their “City to City” program, featuring filmmakers from Lagos.I had the pleasure of working with the talented and beautiful OMONI OBOLI (above) five years ago when I was publicizing Anchor Baby, the first feature film by Toronto-based Nigerian filmmaker Lonzo Nzekwe who cast Omoni in the lead role. She has seen emerged as a hit-making director, writer and producer as well as actor. In fact, Omoni is the #1 box office draw in Nigeria, grossing more than any other filmmakers over the past few years and I recently asked her about her career challenges, especially in light of Hollywood’s ongoing lack of female directors and roles for women of colour.When you first started acting in 1996, did you envision a career solely in front of the camera or did you have goals and ambitions that would put you in control of your own productions?
In 1996, I was an 18yr old undergraduate, who was somehow fortunate to be living out a childhood dream of being an actor and having people watch those movies across the country and beyond. I was too excited about being there that I don’t think I envisioned where I am today. My only focus then was to be in front of the camera and simply bask in the moment. My own production? That was so far from my mind then. The idea of being in control came later with experience, ambition, more interaction with others and a desire to give more of myself in light of some of the movie productions I had seen from others and felt I could do better. I love acting. It’s my first love, and the producing, writing and directing is the fulfilling of my inner desire to be featured in movies I love, which came after being in the industry for long.A lot is being made of Hollywood’s lack of diversity and few women in the director’s chair – how has your experience been working in the Nollywood film community? Have you been accepted as a female director/writer/producer?
I have to say that in Nollywood I don’t see an institutional or systematic stifling of female directors. At least to my knowledge, I haven’t felt that sense of a cartel holding back females from taking up this aspect of filmmaking. Rather, what I’ve seen is a limitation in the mindset of women to take the plunge. I have encouraged some of my female colleagues to take up directing, knowing their capabilities, and many have taken the challenge and are now directing their movies. The fact that we’re few may give this impression, but the men in the industry are not to blame, in my opinion. When the late Amaka Igwe started directing her soaps and movies in the early part of Nollywood history, we didn’t think she was being restricted, because the respect she got from everyone, male and female, was overwhelming and also encouraged, unless there was a battle raging behind the scenes which I didn’t know about. So, yes, I have been accepted as a female director. What I would say is that since my career started as an actor, and I’m still acting, when directors are called, it seems as if they’ve forgotten me as one of them. This is not to say that they don’t respect me, but I’ve seen more acceptance of other female directors who are not actresses than myself, even though my movies are making such big waves and breaking grounds with the audiences. I guess it would be due to the way I’m perceived by many (an actor) rather than an institutional segregation. The same goes with my acceptance as a writer. People love my movies for the refreshing storylines and unique dialogues, but I’m still perceived as an actor.
How do you direct yourself on camera? Are you self-critical or do you find it difficult to get perspective on what you see vs. what you present?
When I’m acting, I find that I’m also directing. Many times, when I’m in a dialogue with another actor, I’m constantly looking out for how they’re delivering their lines and how their body language is in line with what I wrote in the script. As a precaution, I always play back the scene to see how I delivered my own lines, and we don’t move on until it’s right. Yes, I’m very self critical of my acting, directing, writing and pretty much everything I do. I don’t want to have any delusions of grandeur, even if my movies are making waves. It keeps me focused on improving myself and my art. I also listen to criticism from my crew and cast so that I constantly get genuine feedback on the go. After all, it is a business, and the finished product must be top notch and sellable.As a film writer, what inspires your stories? Do you want to tackle “women’s issues” or are you open to all story genres and styles?
I love to laugh, and I want when people go to the cinemas to watch my movies to forget their problems and just relax. I’m open to all stories. My primary motive is always to entertain, because I believe it’s in that atmosphere that you can slot in any other thing you want to reach the audience with I also try to make sure that there must be a positive message that would also give hope, educate, enlighten or inspire people who come primarily to get entertained. So far I’ve done comedies, but I believe that it all starts with a good storyline, and if another genre sparks my interest and sets the stage for good entertainment, then I’m open to all.
How do you see your career changing if you crack the tough and competitive U.S./Hollywood scene like Lupita Nyong’o did? Would you move to California or stay in Nigeria where you can continue to support the film industry there?
Oh, it would change a lot! I’m bound to the art, and not to the location. So if the art takes me anywhere, that’s where I would be. My support for the Nigerian film industry is a lifetime thing for me, and It’s not going anywhere, because I would always support it in every way. Just as producers are making waves across the globe, my living, acting or producing in California, London, Paris or any part of the world wouldn’t change the fact that it’s a nollywood girl doing it, and that brings attention to the Nigerian film industry. I’m so proud of what Lupita has done, and it serves as an inspiration for many of us. Her story has also helped bring attention to the continent of Africa, and by default, the move industry.As a mother of 3 children, how difficult is it to balance work and family life?
It’s the grace of God. I’m so thankful for a supportive husband and a beautiful family. It’s not easy at all, but I try to make up when I’m around. Being away from them is so difficult that I bury myself in whatever project I’m doing till I get back home to my family. Like I always say, “I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do.”
Any advice for other women wanting to direct, write or produce their own films?
Don’t let yourself be limited by what you think others may perceive of you. Don’t think that opportunities will or should be given to you because of your gender. Let your work speak for you, and study twice as hard to give ‘the’ best, and not just ‘your’ best, because the men shouldn’t dumb themselves down just to make you feel good. The women who are in the game are also bringing their A-game, so educate yourself to be skilled in what you want to do. Writing for women can be restricted to the feminine perspective, so get a male angle from the males so that your stories are more relatable, even when it’s meant to be a chick flick. Producing and directing is hard work, so be ready for the work emotionally, and make sure your business side is always active. Surround yourself with competent and trustworthy hands so you don’t get overwhelmed with trying to do all the work. The audience does not care about your excuses or pains in getting the movie out there, they only care enough to pay for a finished work that has value.
You can follow Omoni here: www.keek.com/omonioboli