Lonzo Nzekwe’s revenge thriller “Orah” takes centre stage at TIFF
Nigerian-Canadian filmmaker Lonzo Nzekwe is basking in the limelight at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). Nzekwe’s latest project, “Orah,” a Canadian revenge thriller set in Nigeria and Canada, secured worldwide representation, excluding Canada, with CAA Media Finance just before its prestigious TIFF market screening on Monday night.
This cinematic triumph represents a significant milestone for Nzekwe and highlights the growing recognition of underrepresented creators within the Canadian film industry, spurred in part by the social reckoning following George Floyd’s murder.
Nzekwe, whose script for “Orah” was in development for 12 years, according to THR, expressed his satisfaction at the changing landscape, stating, “These stories that we thought weren’t interesting, or there was no audience, now people are gravitating towards them because we are making these stories.”
“Orah” tells the gripping tale of Orah Maduka, an illegal immigrant and female taxi driver in Toronto, portrayed by Oyin Oladejo. Orah seeks vengeance for her son’s brutal murder by a high-profile Nigerian criminal involved in drug trafficking and money laundering. When legal avenues fail, Orah resorts to violence to settle the score.
The film’s narrative took a more intense turn when Nzekwe’s brother was murdered by a corrupt police officer in Nigeria. This real-life tragedy fueled the film’s revenge angle, prompting Nzekwe to channel his grief and anger into the script.
“Orah” joins a wave of independent films in Canada that explore immigrant life, showcasing universal themes for global audiences and streaming platforms. It also underscores the challenges faced by immigrants in Canada, as Nzekwe explained, “As an immigrant in Canada, it’s a constant battle that we deal with after leaving Nigeria, where you abandon your home and live here and feel a constant struggle to want to go back and forth.”
The film’s producers, Floyd Kane and Amos Adetuyi, are looking to leverage CAA Media Finance’s reach in Africa to secure streaming deals, especially in untapped markets like Canada and Africa, particularly Nigeria and South Africa.
“Orah” features a talented cast, including Agape Mngomezulu, Lucky Onyekachi Ejim, Morgan Bedard, Somkele Iyamah-Idhalama, Oris Erhuero, O.C. Ukeje, Femi Lawson, and Christopher Seivright. The movie was filmed in Sudbury, Ontario, with a second unit capturing scenes in Nigeria.
The Toronto Film Festival will continue to run until September 17, showcasing diverse voices and perspectives in the world of cinema.