Every September, the film community gathers in Toronto, Canada for a unique cinematic experience. The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) has a long history of serving as a global platform for displaying the best in world filmmaking. However, with the ongoing writer’s strike, there would be a much more subdued draw of Hollywood A-listers in attendance. Despite this, there is still some excitement about the incredible lineup of films which will definitely attract all film lovers.
This year’s TIFF looks to continue the considerable trend that African cinema has been having on the global scene in recent years. We will walk you through a chosen list of must-watch movies that will transport you to the lively and wonderfully diverse continent of Africa, where an amazing lineup of African films are slated to premiere.
Death of a Whistleblower (South Africa)
Forgiveness and Four Corners, two of the seasoned filmmaker Ian Gabriel’s prior films, were screened at TIFF. Gabriel revisits the subject matter of 2004’s Forgiveness with Death of a Whistleblower as he explores the effects of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission after apartheid.
I Do Not Come To You By Chance (Nigeria)
Ishaya Bako is one among the many returning African filmmakers to TIFF this year, which is wonderful to see. In 2017, The Royal Hibiscus Hotel, one of his films, screened at TIFF. The Nigerian filmmaker returns with an adaptation from Nigerian author, Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani’s award-winning novel about a struggling Nigerian graduate who believes that helping his uncle’s dubious email fraud is the only way to move forward in his life.
Mambar Pierette (Cameroon/Belgium)
Cameroonian-Belgian documentarian, Rosine Mbakam makes her feature-length debut with Mambar Pierrette which depicts the tribulations of the title character, a skilled seamstress and single mother (Pierrette Aboheu Njeuthat), as she strives to support her family by working hard and overcoming obstacles.
Banel and Adama (Senegal)
Ramata-Toulaye Sy, a Franco-Senegalese director, made history at this year’s Cannes Film Festival by being the only director to compete for the festival’s main prize with her debut film. Banel and Adama tells the story of two lovers torn between responsibility and their love for one another.
In his revenge fantasy film Orah, Lonzo Nzekwe (Anchor Baby) tells the tale of a Toronto immigrant (Oyin Oladejo) whose teenage son is murdered in Nigeria. Overcome with grief and emotions, Orah discovers fresh motivation in pursuing the international money launderers responsible for her son’s passing.
Collaborations with Nigeria and Canada
Lonzo Nzekwe will be present to discuss his experience making the criminal thriller Orah, which was filmed in Canada with a second unit in Nigeria. This would be beneficial for filmmakers in the future hoping to accomplish this feat. Many African films have been launched with the aid of co-productions and collaborations, such as those which helped make Orah showcasing how it can be advantageous for all parties. This will help us in learning what to do in the future to strengthen ties between the two industries of the two nations.
Sira (Burkina Faso)
Winner of the Panorama Audience Award at the Berlinale, and the Silver Stallion of Yennenga prize at Fespaco 2023. Burkinabè director, Apolline Traore offers an unflinching look at the ongoing crisis in the Sahel region of Northern Africa.
The Umbrella Men 2: Escape from Robben Island (South Africa)
The actors and crew of this TIFF-debuting sequel to The Umbrella Men return for another fun robbery in Cape Town’s lovely Bo-Kaap neighbourhood. Escape from Robben Island, picks up after the events of the previous movie, the women of the organization assume leadership as they devise a plan to free some of their colleagues from prison in time to face a recognizable and seasoned foe. The Industry Selects lineup also includes The Umbrella Men 2.