AFRIFF 2023 To Open With Lonzo Nzekwe’s Crime Thriller ‘Orah’

The Africa International Film Festival (AFRIFF) has announced ‘Orah,’ a crime thriller by Nigerian-Canadian filmmaker Lonzo Nzekwe, as the opening gala night film for this year’s festival.

AFRIFF creator Chioma Ude stated in a statement on Thursday that the choice of ‘Orah’ for the opening night “is a bold step to drive home this year’s theme Indigenous 2.0 Global.”

“Filmmaking is evolving rapidly in Africa with Nigeria at the forefront of the renaissance and this year’s edition is designed to continue to reiterate the opportunities for African films and storytelling to reflect ‘global’ perspectives for the sustained success of more local films globally,” she said.

“We intend to continue to empower our storytellers to explore ideologies and techniques that connect with the larger global audience. ‘Orah’ is positioned as the open night movie to drive this expectation.”

‘Orah’ tells the tale of a female taxi driver in Toronto embarking on a tour to avenge the death of her son who was brutally murdered by a high-profile Nigerian criminal in a drug trafficking operation.

It chronicles the story of an illegal immigrant who was smuggled into Canada and sold into sex trafficking at age 15 by her uncle.

‘Orah’ is written, directed, and co-produced by Nzekwe. It was shot in Canada and Nigeria in 2022.

Nzekwe said ‘Orah’ is a revenge film for how his brother was murdered in 2016 after being hit by a stray bullet fired by officers with the disbanded special anti-robbery squad (SARS) in Nigeria.

“That’s when the revenge angle became more intense. I had to travel to Nigeria to get to the root of how my brother was killed. That’s when the rage I had inside, and the pain I saw on my mother’s face led to revenge thoughts, to getting my pound of flesh, and I realised the only way to deal with that was to channel it through a film, and I poured everything into my script,” Nzekwe said.

The movie comprises movie stars like Oyin Oladejo, who played the lead character, Lucky Onyekachi Ejim, Bami Hazar, Agape Mngomezulu, Morgan Bedard, Somkele Iyamah-Idhalama, Oris Erhuero, Ukeje O.C., Uche Odi, Femi Lawson, and Christopher Seivright.

The 12th edition of the film festival is fixed for November 5 to 11 in Lagos.

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