AFRIFF 2023, the 12th edition of the Africa International Film Festival, is set to dazzle audiences from November 5–11, 2023, in Lagos, Nigeria. Continuing its tradition of cinematic excellence, the festival founder and director, Chioma Ude, proudly reveals that the opening night feature will be the film ‘Orah.’ This bold choice aligns with the festival’s theme for 2023, “Indigenous 2.0 Global,” and promises to captivate both Nigerian and international film enthusiasts attending the festival’s renowned opening gala.
Written and directed by Nigerian/Canadian filmmaker Lonzo Nzekwe (known for ‘Anchor Baby’), ‘Orah’ was produced by Nzekwe, Floyd Kane (‘Diggstown’), and Amos Adetuyi (‘The Boathouse’). This compelling film was shot in both Canada and Nigeria in late 2022.
Chioma Ude expressed her anticipation for the festival, stating, “Filmmaking is evolving rapidly in Africa, with Nigeria leading the renaissance. This year’s edition aims to reinforce the potential for African films and storytelling to embrace ‘global’ perspectives, ensuring the success of local films on the global stage. We are committed to empowering our storytellers to explore ideologies and techniques that resonate with a broader global audience, and ‘Orah’ is positioned as the opening night film to exemplify this goal.”
‘Orah’ is a character-driven crime thriller that revolves around the story of a female taxi driver in Toronto embarking on a vengeful quest to avenge her son’s brutal murder by a high-profile Nigerian criminal involved in a drug trafficking operation. Nzekwe revealed that the movie took on a revenge drama angle when, in real life, his brother fell victim to a stray bullet fired by a corrupt police officer from the notorious Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) in Nigeria.
Nzekwe shared his inspiration, saying, “That’s when the revenge aspect became more intense. I had to journey to Nigeria to uncover the truth behind my brother’s death. The rage I felt and the pain I witnessed in my mother’s eyes fueled thoughts of revenge and of exacting justice. I realised that channelling these emotions into a film was the only way to cope, and I poured my heart and soul into the script.”
The cast of ‘Orah’ includes Oyin Oladejo as Orah Madukaku (‘Star Trek: Discovery’), Lucky Onyekachi Ejim (‘Kim’s Convenience’) as Bami Hazar, Agape Mngomezulu (‘The Parker Andersons’) as Tariq Hazar, Morgan Bedard (‘Hard Rock Medical’) as Eli Pope, Somkele Iyamah-Idhalama (‘Titans’) as Lace, Oris Erhuero (‘We Were Once’) as Agent Garuba, O.C. Ukeje (‘Brotherhood’) as Agent Uche Odi, Femi Lawson (‘Because We Are’) as Jimoh Sholola, and Christopher Seivright (‘Take Note’) as Vincent Bailey.
Director and screenwriter Lonzo Nzekwe, who spent 11 years developing the film, expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to finally bring the project to life with the talented cast and crew. He highlighted the film’s gritty and gripping narrative, offering audiences an authentic look into the life of the protagonist and her quest for justice. Nzekwe emphasised that the supporting characters are well-rounded and drawn from diverse backgrounds, adding depth to the storyline.
Nzekwe’s vision for the film goes beyond entertainment, as ‘Orah’ delves into themes of justice versus revenge, redemption, freedom, corruption, and family separation. Nzekwe, a Nigerian-born Canadian filmmaker, felt uniquely qualified to tell the story of an illegal immigrant who was trafficked into Canada at age 15. ‘Orah’ was shot in Sudbury, Ontario, in the fall of 2022, with additional principal photography taking place in Lagos, Nigeria, in December 2022.
The film features cinematography by Ricardo Diaz (‘Subjects of Desire’), production design by Mark Kowalsky (‘Frat Pack’), costume design by Chantel Bedward (‘Stupid For You’), editing by Marc Roussel (‘Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities’), and music by Felipe Téllez (‘Tomorrow’).
‘Orah’ is produced by Circle Blue Entertainment and Freddie Films in association with IronFlix Inc., with the support of Telefilm Canada, the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC), and ONCreates Film Fund. Level Film is the Canadian distributor. This thrilling crime drama promises to leave a lasting impact on audiences and inspire positive change.
Watch the AFRIFF 2023 Official Trailer for ‘Orah’
The Africa International Film Festival (AFRIFF) is an international film showcase in Nigeria’s biggest city, Lagos. It presents a complete immersion into the world of filmmaking, with participation from all over Africa and the Diaspora. Founded in 2010 by Chioma Ude, an ardent film lover and entrepreneur, the festival is positioned to be the biggest annual appointment for African filmmakers in the region, celebrating the best African films and stories.
Our programming is themed around African films, filmmakers, and African cinematic impulses making the rounds in the international film circuit in categories such as feature films, shorts, student shorts, documentary films, and animation.