One of the films, I Do Not Come to You by Chance, directed by Ishaya Bako, will see Nollywood veteran, Genevieve Nnaji, make a return to filmmaking as a co-executive producer, five years after her directorial debut film, Lionheart.
By Helena Olori
Nigerian film director, Ishaya Bako’s I Do Not Come to You by Chance has been selected to screen at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF23) Centrepiece programme, alongside three other African films, Death of a Whistleblower, Banel & Adama, and Sira.
The film, an adaptation of Nigerian writer, Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani‘s award-winning debut novel of the same name, chronicles the struggles of a Nigerian graduate “whose only path forward seems to be abetting his shady uncle’s fraudulent email scam.” It stars Blossom Chukwujekwu, Jennifer Eliogu, Beverly Osu, Paul Nnadiekwe, and Sambasa Nberibe.
I Do Not Come to You by Chance, will make its world premiere at the festival, marking Ishaya Bello’s second #TIFF film after The Royal Hibiscus Hotel in 2017. It is also his second collaboration with the iconic actress, Genevieve Nnaji.
Also making its world premiere at the #TIFF23 is Death of a Whistleblower by South African director, Ian Gabriel. The film tells the story of an investigative journalist, Luyanda Masinda, who joins forces with the whistle-blower, Albert Loots, to expose corruption in South Africa’s military trade after her lover’s murder.
Banel & Adama and Sira will have their North American premieres. The former made its world premiere at the 76th Cannes Film Festival in May 2023, while the latter is the winner of the Panorama Audience Award at Berlinale ’23 where it had its world premiere.
Banel & Adama is a romantic drama about a young couple whose blooming love is threatened by the village council’s disapproval, leading to chaos. It is directed by Senegalese screenwriter, Ramata-Toulaye Sy. The film clinched two awards at the Biarritz Film Festival and has continued to garner international acclaim ahead of its October 4 release date.
Sira, by Burkina Faso’s Apolline Traoré, centres on a young nomad girl, Sira, who, after a brutal attack, bravely resists Islamist terror.
All four films will feature in the line-up for the Centrepiece programme which will screen 47 titles from filmmakers representing 45 countries. Formerly called Contemporary World Cinema, the programme celebrates global cinematic feats, inviting audiences to explore contemporary films.
According to Anita Lee, TIFF’s Chief Programming Officer. “The rebranding of the TIFF programme […] is a reflection of the festival’s vision to provide an elevated platform for international cinema, for acclaimed titles from festivals around the globe, highly anticipated premieres from Canadian and international talents, and the latest work of influential filmmaking luminaries.”
The 48th edition of the TIFF is scheduled to take place from September 7–17 with ticket sales to the general public starting August 28, 2023.