Toronto Film Festival to Spotlight Nollywood in 2016 City to City Sidebar

Cameron Bailey -Getty -H 2016
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Filmmakers from Lagos, Nigeria, will be feted at the September festival in a section programmed by Cameron Bailey.

The Toronto Film Festival is giving Nollywood its close-up this September.

Citing a creative and commercial cinema boom, TIFF artistic director Cameron Bailey is programming a focus on filmmakers from Lagos, Nigeria, as part of the 2016 City to City sidebar.

The City to City: Lagos lineup won't be announced until August. But Bailey on Tuesday pointed to a new generation of directors following in the wake of Nollywood generating around 1,000 low-budget features and around $1 billion in global box office each year.

"Bigger budgets, greater artistic ambition — the new cinema of Lagos is bold, exciting, and ready to take its place on the international stage," Bailey said in a statement about filmmakers targeting a Nigerian diaspora and an African audience closer to home.

City to City, now in its eighth year, offers a lineup of indie titles from a specific urban center. Cities featured in past programs include London, Tel Aviv, Istanbul, Buenos Aires, Mumbai, Athens and Seoul.

Toronto choosing Nollywood for a focus is a sign the Lagos-based industry is maturing in terms of style and narrative, as TIFF fest-goers are used to the best in commercial and auteur filmmaking from the around the world.

"The city of Fela Kuti's music has also given birth to one of the world’s most vibrant film industries," Bailey said.

The 41st Toronto Film Festival is set to run from Sept. 8 to 18.