TIFF - Kunle Afolayan and Genevieve Nnaji
TIFF – Kunle Afolayan and Genevieve Nnaji

This year’s Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) City to City program focuses on Lagos, Nigeria – the internationally-recognized, supremely-prolific movie industry that calls Nigeria home – Nollywood; an industry that’s given birth to a growing cadre of local filmmakers interested in shifting the mostly unfavorable critical *outsider* perceptions of films made by Nigerians in Nigeria.

The City to City selection is curated by Cameron Bailey, Artistic Director of the Toronto International Film Festival, which is ongoing, and runs through the 18th of this month.

“Hundreds of films are made every year in Lagos for a voracious audience around the world. Our City to City spotlight brings some of Nollywood’s most popular filmmakers together with new voices who are introducing an alternative, indie spirit to Nigerian cinema,” said Cameron Bailey, Artistic Director of the Toronto International Film Festival. “We’re excited to share this unprecedented showcase of talent from Lagos with our Toronto audience.”

This is the 8th year for the City to City program, which showcases filmmakers living and working in a selected city, regardless of where their films are set. Cities featured in past programs include London, Tel Aviv, Istanbul, Buenos Aires, Mumbai, Athens and Seoul.

The City to City: Lagos lineup includes a number of the films we’ve covered on this blog, as well as a TIFF Rising Stars spotlight of two up-and-coming actors from Lagos – OC Ukeje and Somkele Iyamah-Idhalama – as well as an “In Conversation With” segment that features Nigerian actor, film producer, and singer Genevieve Nnaji, and actor, film producer, and director Kunle Afolayan, names that readers of this blog will hopefully be familiar with.

The “In Conversation With” piece, which took place over the weekend, has been made available online; it’s over an hour long and definitely worth watching/listening to, as Kunle Afolayan and Genevieve Nnaji discuss Nigeria’s vibrant film industry and the international rise of Nollywood, providing more than a primer – its history through the present, and future – especially for the uninitiated, illuminating the complex dynamics behind Nollywood’s rise to prominence at home and all over the world.

Afolayan garnered accolades out of the gate with his directorial debut, “The Figurine” (2009), a horror/thriller which I’ve championed on S&A. A Nigerian film industry heavyweight, Afolayan has elevated the standards and ambitions of Nigerian cinema over the past decade; from shooting on 35mm instead of digital cameras, to devising elaborate release strategies for his films, including his most recent venture, “The CEO” (2016), which took place on an Air France flight from Lagos to Paris.

Celebrated as the leading lady of Nollywood and the face of African cinema, Nnaji began her career as a child on the popular soap opera “Ripples,” and has since received multiple awards for her work in films such as “Ijé: The Journey” (2010), “Half of a Yellow Sun” (2013) and “Road to Yesterday” (2015). A producer and media entrepreneur, Nnaji is also a singer and released her first album, “One Logologo Line,” in 2004.

Watch their full 1+ hour TIFF “In Conversation” Nollywood discussion below: