AFRIFF 2023 opens today with Lonzo Nzekwe’s compelling crime thriller “ORAH”

*To close with BB Sasore’s "Breath of Life"

The Africa International Film Festival (AFRIFF) is set to kick off its 12th edition with a bang as it announces the opening night movie, ORAH, a powerful crime thriller directed by the acclaimed Nigerian/Canadian filmmaker Lonzo Nzekwe. 

According to Latasha Ngwube, Head of PR & Media for AFRIFF 2023 during a press briefing on Friday, the festival will take place from November 5th to 11th, 2023, in Lagos, Nigeria, continuing the festival’s tradition of celebrating the art of cinema and storytelling.

Indeed, with a focus on the theme “Indigenous 2.0 Global,” this edition of AFRIFF is set to be a testament to the ever-evolving and impactful world of African filmmaking.

Chioma Ude, the Founder & Festival Director of AFRIFF, expressed her enthusiasm for this year’s edition, stating, “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.”

ORAH is a character-driven crime thriller that delves into the intense journey of a female taxi driver in Toronto seeking revenge for her son’s brutal murder, perpetrated by a high-profile Nigerian criminal involved in drug trafficking.  

Nzekwe shares a personal connection to the story, as his own brother fell victim to violence in Nigeria, inspiring him to create this gripping narrative.

Produced by Nzekwe, Floyd Kane and Amos Adetuyi,the film features a talented cast, including Oyin Oladejo, Lucky Onyekachi Ejim, Agape Mngomezulu, and more, all contributing to an emotionally charged and suspenseful cinematic experience.

ORAH was filmed in both Canada and Nigeria and offers a unique perspective on themes of justice, revenge, redemption, freedom, corruption and family separation. The film aims to leave a lasting impact on its viewers and inspire them in a positive way.

Leading the prestigious AFRIFF jury is none other than Stephen ‘Dr.’ Love, who was at the Friday briefing where he expressed his excitement to be part of the festival.

The acclaimed producer behind one of Netflix’s most-watched films of the year, They Cloned Tyrone, starring the renowned Nigerian-British actor, John Boyega, his impressive career in the global filmmaking industry solidifies him as an ideal choice for the role of jury president.

The distinguished jury further comprises a constellation of luminaries, including Emmy-nominated Nigerian-British writer-producer Abby Ajayi, celebrated Nigerian film producer Greg Otudayo, and the Zimbabwean award-winning author, Tsitsi Dangarembga, who recently clinched the 2023 African Peace Prize. Joining them is the Lebanese-French actress and director, Wafa’a Céline Halawi, along with a lineup of other renowned figures from the film and entertainment world.

With over 2,000 film submissions pouring in from more than 100 countries across five continents, the jury has meticulously selected over 100 films and is now entrusted with the task of determining the finalists for the coveted AFRIFF Globe Awards.

Also, AFRIFF will honour remarkable actors who have made exceptional contributions to the industry this year. The AFRIFF Honours serve as a platform to recognize and celebrate the extraordinary talents and dedication of individuals who have significantly influenced the Nigerian and African film industry. The Honouree Award will be presented to selected actors at the Globe Awards Night, on November 11th during the festival.

This special award category is sponsored by MTN, a renowned telecommunications and ICT company, with an endowment of 2 million naira for each honoree. The sponsorship exemplifies MTN’s commitment to supporting and fostering growth of the film industry in Nigeria.

Actors to be honoured include Richard Mofe Damijo (The Black Book), Blossom Chukwujekwu (The Trade), Chidi Mokeme (Shanty Town), Funke Akindele (Battle on Buka street) and Femi Adebayo (Jagun Jagun). Others are Chioma Akpotha (Gangs of Lagos), Kunle Remi (Anikulapo), Ini Edo (Shanty Town), Nse Ikpe Etim (4-44-44), Lateef Adedimeji, (Jagun Jagun), and Tobi Bakare (Gangs of Lagos). 

According to Ude

“AFRIFF is excited to introduce the Honouree Award to its list for the first time in twelve years. We are proud of the exceptional contributions of the honourees to film and television as they continue to make an impact on industry growth and showcase more opportunities for global recognition. We are grateful to the sponsors of this category, MTN Nigeria for the zeal and resilience in standing with the African film industry and providing a platform for our talents to soar’’.

AFRIFF in partnership with Prime Video will close the 12th edition with BB Sasore’s inspirational movie Breath of Life.

The selection, which is about life and destiny, was made known by Ude, who said it aligns with the organiser’s bid to promote more indigenous movies to a global audience that will grace the festival’s closing night hosted in partnership with Prime Video in Lagos, Nigeria. 

Written and directed by BB Sasore and produced by Eku Edewor, Breath of Life portrays the story of a former clergyman who loses everything he holds dear including his faith and goes on a journey of self-transformation when his life is taken over by his Christian houseboy. The film spotlights veterans and key characters led by Wale Ojo, Sam Dede, Tina Mba and Eku Edewor. Others include Chimezie Imo, Genoveva Umeh, Ademola Adedoyin, and Chidozie Nzeribe. 

Speaking on the movie selection as choice for the closing night, Director and Screenwriter, BB Sasore said:

Breath of Life is a testimony to how a person’s cause in life can change in the twinkling of an eye. It speaks to living a life of purpose and the need for it to be fulfilled. We believe AFRIFF and Prime Video audiences will enjoy the film and learn from the character’s experiences”.  

Breath of Life launches globally on Prime Video December 15th, as part of the streaming platform’s effort to showcase Nollywood at its best, by telling authentic homegrown stories in a range of genres to Prime Video customers around the world. The film highlights the story of a man who has lost his sense of purpose until an encounter with a young man who changes his life and destiny.

Breath of Life is produced by Nemsia Films co-founded by Derin Adeyokunnu and BB Sasore. The movie which is set in the 1950s was shot in Nigeria’s historic city of Ibadan.

This edition of AFRIFF promises to be a remarkable showcase of African and global cinema, emphasising the importance of storytelling as a bridge to connect with audiences worldwide. The festival aims to empower storytellers to explore ideologies and techniques that resonate with a broader global audience.

As the anticipation for AFRIFF 2023 grows, film enthusiasts from both Nigeria and the international community are eagerly looking forward to experiencing the magic of cinema through the lens of “ORAH” and other captivating films. 

For more information about the festival and its programme, you can visit AFRIFF’s official website at

AFRIFF is an internationally renowned film showcase held in Lagos, Nigeria, and is dedicated to promoting and celebrating African cinema and storytelling. Founded by Chioma Ude in 2010, the festival has become a significant annual event for African filmmakers, highlighting the best in African films and stories across various categories, including feature films, shorts, student shorts, documentaries, and animations.


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