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!
Tomi Adeoye kicks up her heels
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!
Don Omope of FilmOne prods/Distribs.
Naz Onuzo of Inkblot Prods. & Niyi Akinmolayan of The Arbitration film
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)….
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)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 Lawalso 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 ticketswww.tiff.net/tiff/Look for the special City to City programme which features Lagos and the talented Nigerian filmmakers who call that city home.
I first met self-taught Canadian-Nigerian filmmaker LONZO NZEKWE about 5 years ago when he asked me to promote the debut screening of his first feature film, Anchor Baby, here in Toronto during the annual Toronto Int’l Film Festival. Although Anchor Baby was not part of the Festival, we arranged that the screening take place at a major cinema multiplex during the period when most int’l film media and industry folks were in town. The screening was a resounding success with a packed house (we actually turned people away), lots of media coverage and Lonzo was off and running with his feature film that was made mostly in and around Toronto on a shoestring budget.Over a dozen or so int’l film awards later…….the writer/director has now brought his latest project, a 37min. crime thriller, Meet The Parents, to the screen and that, too, has started amassing critical kudos and awards including the Best Short Film award at the 2016 Africa Movie Academy Awards. I recently sat down with Lonzo and asked him to share some insights into his self-made career, and about the upcoming Toronto Int’l Film Festival where he will be supporting fellow filmmakers and stars of Nollywood, as the Nigerian film industry is called, who are coming into town as part of this year’s TIFF City to City: Lagos program.
Having only spent a short time studying filmmaking, can you share some of the most challenging obstacles you’ve experienced being a self-taught producer/director?
One of the major challenges is getting funding for new film projects. Up till now, all my film productions have been self-funded because it’s tough to get investors when you are an independent filmmaker. Another challenge is getting media exposure for the films after they’ve been shot, but thanks to social media and my IronFlix movie streaming platform, I’m now able to reach a global audience without breaking the bank.
Your first film was the feature length Anchor Baby (2010) which went on to win so many international awards after premiering here in Toronto. How did such immediate success impact your career and/or goals for your future?
Anchor Baby (pictured below) catapulted me to the front of the line after its success. The film played in Nigerian cinemas for about 12 weeks, the UK for 6 weeks, Ghana and Canada for about 2 weeks. As dark as the ending of that movie is, there’s something special about the film as a whole because it pulled no punches and it’s brutally honest. All the 13 film awards including Best Film at the Harlem International Film Festival and two nominations at the 2011 Africa Movie Academy Awards made people take notice. I guess at the time, they wanted to know what’s up with this self-taught first time filmmaker.Your most recent film was a short titled Meet The Parents which is garnering critical acclaim as well as moviegoer praise. It recently won Best Short Film Award at the 2016 Africa Movie Academy Awards – what sort of comments/responses have you received about this second film from the African and worldwide film community?
It’s interesting because after I made Anchor Baby, a few people thought its success was a fluke. The truth is that Anchor Baby was easy for me to make and I knew at the time that I have the potential to write and direct other good movies. By the way, Meet The Parents is 37 minutes long and I consider it a mini-feature film because it actually feels like you’re watching a full feature length film. When you watch Meet the Parents, you can clearly see the growth on the writing and technical aspects of my filmmaking. I’ve received great reviews from film industry people here in Canada as well as Nigeria. Recently, a well respected industry insider in Toronto watched the film and wrote that he likes the film’s look, especially the real sophistication in the way I crafted the images and sound. I jokingly tell people that the film has a “38 Special” flow to it because a snub-nosed 38mm handgun played an important role in the major turning point of the film.
As a film writer, what inspires your stories? I gather Meet The Parents was inspired by a Jay Z song?
I get inspirations from my pains, worries, love, loss and life in general. Meet the Parents was originally inspired by a Jay Z song of the same title in his 2004 Blueprint 2 album. It’s about a father who abandoned his infant son for a life on the streets and 15 years later, fate brings father and son together again in deadly street fight that will alter their lives forever. I’m a huge Jay Z fan from his Reasonable Doubt days and his music in general has been a source of inspiration as a black filmmaker. He paints vivid pictures with words and every time I heard that song, I get these haunting cinematic images in my head that won’t go away. So I decided to put it into film in my own personal interpretation and also added other plausible twists and turns that made the film special.
You recently launched another exciting project, this time it’s a film, documentary & TV streaming platform called IronFlix that offers entertainment from Africa-based production companies. What inspired this new business and how did you create IronFlix.com?
I believe that filmmakers should create their own path to success instead of waiting for someone to else to get you there. I started IronFlix because I kinda see the direction film consumption is heading. VOD streaming is not the future; it is now! I want to be able to reach my audience anywhere in the world without depending solely on cinemas and traditional television networks.
I originally came from Nigeria, a country that built their film industry (Nollywood) from scratch without help from the government. Most people like me (Nigerian filmmakers) don’t worry about things like “Oscar So White” because we try as much as possible to create our own opportunities and create a market for our work. No one can marginalize us and tell us the types of movies or stories to tell. We have our own film industry, film festivals, cinemas and the Africa academy awards that’s slowly being recognized around the world. One of my main goals is to collaborate with like-minded individuals working in Nollywood, Hollywood and other western film industries to help spread genuine African stories to a global audience.
What are the top films being viewed on IronFlix that we should all watch out for?
Some of the great films and Tv shows you can watch now on IronFlix include Anchor Baby, Ojuju, Making of A Mogul, Pamper Your Mum, Form 36 and many many more.
Your next film project is called Laundrymen – is that a short or feature film? Can you share any teasers or background info on this new production?
Laundrymen will be a feature film. I’ve been developing it for over three years now and it’s a revenge crime thriller. It will be my most ambitious project till date and I’m looking forward to starting production. I’m still raising funds to shoot it so if you know anyone interested in financing a great film, please contact me let’s make it happen.
What advice (or cautions) can you offer emerging indie filmmakers starting out along a similar career path as you did?
All I can say is just do it. Most people talk about what they are going to do when they have the right money, equipment, cast and crew etc. Truth is, you will never have everything right the way you want it. Also, make sure whatever film you’re making is saying something, and it’s something you can be proud of after all is said and done. Your time is way more valuable than money because you can’t replace the time you lost on a film that isn’t about anything.
You can follow Lonzo on his journey with Meet the Parents, as well as his activities during TIFF via social media:
And I’ll be posting updates throughout TIFF so subscribe to my blog or follow me on Facebook.com/FordhamPR or Twitter & Instgram: @FordhamPR