News / Toronto

Nollywood -- the world's second largest film industry -- lands in Toronto

Inaugural Nigerian festival lines up a dozen flicks from Nigerian-Canadian producers in an effort to introduce African cinema to a North American audience.

Jay Napoleon, right, and Vivian Williams are among organizers of the first Nollywood Film Festival taking place in Toronto this week.

Eduardo Lima / Metro Order this photo

Jay Napoleon, right, and Vivian Williams are among organizers of the first Nollywood Film Festival taking place in Toronto this week.

Right in the thick of the Toronto International Film Festival, one of the world's biggest movie industries is ready to step out and share the spotlight.

The inaugural Nollywood Travel Film Festival starts Tuesday, featuring a dozen movies by Nigerian-Canadian producers in an effort to introduce African cinema to a North American audience.

"In the past, people always thought that we could not make great films. But these days we are able to compete with any other large film industries," said Mykel Parish, president of the African Film Consortium, which helped organize the five-day festival.

"Unlike the impression people have about Africa and Nigeria, these aren't just wishy-washy films. You get to see some of the most celebrated actors in Africa, in movies that haven't been screened anywhere else."

For the first time last year, TIFF screened eight films produced by the Nollywood industry, giving Nigerian filmmakers an opportunity to showcase their talents on a grand stage.

Despite being the second-largest film industry by volume behind India's Bollywood, Nigerian movies are not as popular as Hollywood productions. Parish believes being featured alongside TIFF can help propel their industry to another level.

"Having a festival in Toronto allows us to look at opportunities beyond Nigeria," he said, as the exposure helps expand their distribution to America and Europe as well as create connections for co-production.

The festival's events co-ordinator Jay Napoleon said movie goers can expect a mixture of comedy and drama with a rich dose of history and culture.

"Storytelling has always been part of an African heritage," he said. "By putting that into a motion picture, people are able to actually relate with a true African culture and lifestyle."

If you go:

Most screenings will take place at Imagine Cinema (80 Front St. E.). More information on the festival can be found at NollywoodInternationalCanada.com.

Some of the big actors you may run into include Amanda Ebeye, Ali Nuhu, Richard Mofe-Damijo, Omoni Oboli and Ik Ogbonna.

More on Metronews.ca