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TIFF-ADJACENT “TORONTO ECO 2017″ PRESENTS WOMEN FILMMAKERS SHARING THEIR STORIES

Thanks to friend and filmmaker NOEMI WEIS, I was invited to attend the “Toronto Eco 2017″ presentations this afternoon taking place during the massive Toronto Int’l Film Festival. Noemi was asked to sit on a panel of women filmmakers talking about their experiences getting films made and just getting the gigs themselves. 20170912_160315Pictured above from L to R: Kate Perotti (Edendale Pictures), Blythe Frank (Middle Kid Inc.), Nancy Puetz (Int’l Women in Film + Tennessee chapter President ), moderator and host of Toronto Eco 2017 Hal “Corky” Kessler (Deutsch, Levy & Engel/Exec. Producer of numerous box office hits), then Christin Baker (award-wining director & Emmy-nom’d  producer) and award-winning filmmaker Noemi Weis (Filmblanc)

Sitting in such prestigious company, I found it fascinating hearing the opinions of each filmmaker as she shared the challenges experienced and triumphs to be celebrated working in a male-dominated industry where women are constantly forced to demand equality both on-screen and behind the camera. The small but attentive audience contributed well-targeted questions and had Corky not reminded us of time-constraints, I’m sure we could have continued for another hour.

Christin Baker (L) with Noemi Weis (R)

Christin Baker (L) with Noemi Weis (R)

Following this panel was an interesting informal “pitch” panel featuring 2 Toronto-based established filmmakers (Coral Aiken & Hannah Cheesman), who were seeking script development $s for their new project that will definitely appeal to the young adult/millennial audiences. Moderated again by Corky, the panel featured Noemi and Strath Hamilton, CEO of TriCoast Worldwide distribution company, as well as a representative from the Italian film distribution industry (apologies, I did not get his name as he was not introduced).20170912_171316As Coral and Hannah made the pitch, I could already “see” their film and thought about how perfectly suited it was for the massive int’l genre film fest/cos-play/Fan expo crowd and I already know there are number of elements with which I can help them (Laura Rock, be prepared for a phone call!).20170912_171822After this panel concluded with a rousing round of applause, several of the panelists gathered for some group photos…

(LtoR) Coral, Strath, Hannah & Corky

(LtoR) Coral, Strath, Hannah & Corky

Below, director/screen writer Katia Cafe-Febrissy (L) with Barrister & Solicitor Terry Markus, Noemi and director/writer/producer Nikki Cole getting chummy after the event.20170912_172722Thanks to Noemi for the invite, and thanks to all the participants for giving me an afternoon of intense filmmaking insider views and shared experiences.

To watch these videotaped panels, log on to: www.torontoeco.tv

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URBAN SOURCE CATERING DELIVERS ANOTHER GREAT MENU FOR INSIDE OUT FILM FEST PARTY-GOERS

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) …..20170602_185208 20170602_19052720170602_191810 20170602_191215…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.20170602_191206…and the guests had fun at the wacky photo booth – wonder what digital background was being added..hmmm?20170602_190135Meet our Executive Chef Lyndon Wiebe (below L) with his trusty kitchen staff who kept the food coming!20170602_192724I 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.20170602_190315If you would like to have your party or corporate event catered by Urban Source Catering, please visit their website for menu ideas:  www.urbancatering.comUS-LOGO

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URBAN SOURCE CATERING DELIVERS THE YUM @ INSIDE OUT FILM FEST GALA EVENT

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 ….20170530_183845 20170530_183837 20170530_183849The 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!20170530_184045 20170530_18510820170530_190950(0) 20170530_184932…so I ambushed the serving crew as they exited the kitchen to get more “normal” lighting…LOL!20170530_194842 20170530_192542 20170530_192556The shrimp were a big hit, especially with this excited guest (below)20170530_185133 20170530_185248The 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….20170530_184147Lots of fun, food and photo opps for all….20170530_191904 20170530_185138 20170530_19321720170530_184034Wayne from Urban Catering posed at the photo wall with colleague Cybele (below) in between schmoozing with guests and Festival organizers …..20170530_185434Inside 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 20170530_194343Congratulations 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!

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TORONTO’S INSIDE OUT FILM FESTIVAL SPONSOR PARTY HOSTED @ URBAN SOURCE CATERING & URBAN GALLERY

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.20170517_184957Below, Urban Source Catering’s co-owner Wayne Abell welcomed the Festival’s newly appointed Exec. Director, Andria Wilson, to URBAN GALLERY… 
20170517_174316…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).20170517_174449Andria got busy with social media postings along with colleagues Clayton and Andrew (LtoR, below)20170517_174713Delicious bite-sized treats were served along with wine, cocktails and non-alcoholic bevvies by the catering staff below)20170517_175001 20170517_174119Andria enjoyed a few nibblies with the guests…20170517_175103(0)…and enjoyed the festivities with colleagues Winnie Luk (below L), the Dir. of Operations & Events, and Andrew Murphy (below R) Dir. of Programming.20170517_180533Then it was time for the presentation and teaser trailer of upcoming festival films20170517_181059 20170517_181136 20170517_181347Congrats to Marketing & Outreach Mgr, Clayton Lee (below R) and tech assistant CJ (L) for helping present the video.20170517_182738Brad’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…20170517_184027…and below, gallery owner Calvin Hambrook lined up the guests for even more photo opps.20170517_185644As many guests observed, the table decorations were elegant and colourful…20170517_185057 20170517_185113If 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.comwww.urbangallery.ca

Urban Gallery is located at 400 Queen St East, Toronto (just 1 block E of Parliament) with street and lot parking close by.IMG_5575

 

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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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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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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/

 

 

 

 

 

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NOLLYWOOD’S BOX OFFICE QUEEN BRINGS “OKAFOR’S LAW” TO TIFF!

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 headshotOmoni 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 5Omoni 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, 2016_MG_9971FILM 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)image7You 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. 79be306f-9fb4-4e48-b518-2fcd1a68337e