News Brief

11 Films From the African Diaspora to Look Out For At the Toronto International Film Festival

Here are 11 films from the diaspora showing at this year's Toronto International Film Festival.

The 2017 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is just around the corner. The widely attended festival will run from September 7-17, and feature a host of film screenings, workshops, panel discussions, galleries and more.

There are a number of films showing at this year's festival, that we're seriously looking forward to seeing. From dramas to romantic comedies, to documentaries and even westerns, this year's selection offers an eclectic mix of films from actors and filmmakers from across the diaspora.

Below are 11 films to keep an eye out for at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival. Visit TIFF's website for the full lineup.


Directed by Senegalese filmmaker, Alain Gomis, this Kinshasha-set drama tells the story of  a young, independent bar singer searching for a way to save her son after he is hospitalized.

Five Fingers For Marseilles

This South African "neo-western" tells the story of Five Fingers, an outlaw who returns to his small hometown in the Eastern Cape on a quest to restore peace. The film was shot entirely in the Eastern Cape and features a predominantly black cast—it's offers a much needed variation on the classically white film genre.

BOOM FOR REAL The Late Teenage Years of Jean-Michel Basquiat

This documentary by Sara Driver, explores the eminent artist's life and work before he reached staggering success in the art world. The film offers commentary on race, sexuality and more as young Basquiat navigates his way through the transformational 1980s New York arts scene.

Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami

This documentary, directed by Stephanie Fiennes, examines the singular life and career of Jamaican-born new wave icon Grace Jones. The film was made over the course of a decade. Live clips form her most recent performances are interspersed intimate footage of the singer with her family in Jamaica and during recent studio sessions.

I Am Not a Witch

In her debut feature, Zambian director, Rungano Nyoni, paints the tale of Shula, a young girl sent away to live in a "witch camp" after she is accused of sorcery. The film uses elements of fiction and magical realism to offer social commentary on gender and social ostracism.


Jamaican film director, Clement Virgo's 1995 debut feature film will show during this year's festival. The film is celebrated for its groundbreaking and nuanced depiction of Black Canadian life.


This film chronicles the day-to-day of Liberian anti-illegal logging activist Silas Siakor over the course of 5 years. Filmmakers, Anjali Nayar and Hawa Essuman follow the determined citizen as he advocates for social and environmental reform. His actions helped expose the environmental threats brought on by Ellen Johnson Sirleaf's presidency.

Still Water Runs Deep

This 16-minute short by director Abbesi Akhamie shares a thought-provoking exploration of the dynamics of fatherhood, through the portrait of a Nigerian patriarch dealing with the complications that arise in his family life after his estranged son goes missing.

The Crying Conch

Mauritian director Vincent Toi puts a mythical lens on Haitian history, through a retelling of the 18th century slave revolt that made the island-nation the "First Black Republic."

The Number

In this gritty drama from South African filmmaker Khalo Matabane, a long-time member of one of South Africa's most notorious prison gangs, questions his commitment to the group after witnessing the brutal murder of a young initiate. The harrowing story is based on real events.

The Royal Hibiscus Hotel

This Nollywood rom-com, by Kaduna-born director Ishaya Bako, is about a young restauranteur who returns home to Lagos to work at her parents' hotel only to find that they  plan to sell it. She finds herself in a tangled web of animosity and attraction when she falls for that the successful, eligible bachelor who wants to buy the hotel.

Image courtesy of Chude Jideonwo

Nigerian Mental Health Advocate Chude Jideonwo Shares Practical Ways Of Coping During COVID

We speak with the founder of Joy Inc. about the mental health challenges facing Nigerians, how many have managed to find effective ways to cope, and the online resources available to the community.

Never in our lifetimes have we experienced a pandemic of this gravity. As COVID-19 cases rise in Nigeria, Nigerians aren't just worried about getting the virus, they are also concerned about a host of other challenges: our lack of efficient and effective healthcare—which is overwhelmed even without a pandemic—the lack of appropriate data, and the high levels of poverty and illiteracy in the country that make it difficult to enforce the strategies that will enable us to handle the pandemic and keep it under control.

In a bid to understand how Nigerians are dealing with mental health challenges now, on the ground, due to the pandemic—which has led to a lockdown restricting movement and also social distancing rules—we spoke with Nigerian journalist, lawyer and mental healthcare advocate Chude Jideonwo, who is the founder of Joy Inc. He shared insights from his experiences with The Joy Inc., which he founded in 2016 to help young people going through mental and emotional challenges. He aimed to help provide young Nigerians with tools to help navigate the world around them.

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