Toronto International Film Festival Open’s Big with FilmOne

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By Olaoluwakitan Babatunde

Exactly two years since its inception, FilmOne has grown to becoming Nigeria’s premier distribution and production company and no where has this been more established than at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival where the distribution arm of the business represents 6 out of the 8 films selected to showcase Nollywood and the production arm of the business were the producers behind two very popular films screening at the festival. The Wedding party (2016) and Taxi Driver: Oko Ashewo (2015)

With close to a hundred stakeholders from actors, producers, directors, investors and the usual uninvited guests expected to grace Toronto from the 8th to the 18th this month, never has Nollywood gotten such an high profile endorsement on the international stage and have been able to back the recognition with global standards films

Nollywood has never been able to put together a strong showcase of movies like ’76 (Izu Ojukwu), The Arbitration (Niyi Akinmolayan), Taxi Driver (Oko Ashewo by Daniel Emeke Oriahi), Just Not Married (Uduak-Obong-Patrick), Okafor’s Law (Omoni Oboli), Green White Green (Abba Makama), The Wedding Party (Kemi Adetiba) and 93 Days (Steve Gukas) all coming out the same year in the box office.

Its important to note that never in the history of our modern cinema reign have we enjoyed a consistent flow of qualitative box office movies like we have experienced since 2014.

According to Don Omope, head of Films and content strategy at FilmOne, about the company’s hugely successful movie production programme that has produced films like Lunch Time Heroes (1st kid’s film) Chasing Hanifa (Hausa), Taxi Drive: Oko Ashewo (Yoruba) and FilmOne’s latest movie The wedding Party (English blockbuster) made in conjunction with Ebonylife, Koga Studios and Inkblot production.

“I make films solely on their creative merit and commercial potential and thats why our programme is successful, we saw a gap in the market to collaborate with talented filmmakers to co-produce films by providing a creative and commercial support system for them”. He continued.

“Toronto is here today on merit, and the reason can only be attributed to one thing which is the professionalisation of Nollywood. New producers coming into the industry from better structured professions like banking, engineering, Law etc and introducing a discipline of purpose and commercial ethics to the making of films. The growth and rapid expansion of cinemas multiplexes/ distribution and perhaps most significantly the strong support system for directors to make better creative and commercial films”.

Setup by the charismatic Kene Mkparu, MD of Filmhouse cinemas, FilmOne is fast growing to rival the strong success of its sister company Filmhouse cinemas which just added the first ever IMAX cinema in West Africa to its portfolio of cinemas across Nigeria.

As the country celebrates and marvel at what is a truly impressive outing for Nollywood, The Toronto International Film Festival’s City to City programme’s focus on Lagos is a celebration of the emergence of Nollywood as a growing professional film industry with all facets of the industry working together professionally.