Toronto International Film Festival selects The Royal Hibiscus Hotel for ‘Contemporary World Cinema’

Set in Lagos and London, the movie tells the story of a passionate London chef, ‘Ope’, who was trying to follow her dream of opening a restaurant in London, but was frustrated by her lack of progress.

The Royal Hibiscus Hotel, a new romantic comic movie from EbonyLife Films, will be screened for the first time at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in September. The movie is the only Nigerian selection and one of three African features in the Contemporary World Cinema category, which spotlights 48 of the best new films worldwide.

Set in Lagos and London, the movie tells the story of a passionate London chef, ‘Ope’, who was trying to follow her dream of opening a restaurant in London, but was frustrated by her lack of progress. She returns to Nigeria and discovers that coming home can bring unexpected.

Directed by Ishaya Bako, director of the feature film, The Road to Yesterday, TIFF selection of the movie EbonyLife Films out of hundreds of entries in the Contemporary World Cinema category, lands it the third major international festival premiere since it was produced.

This is the second time an EbonyLife film would be chosen for screening at the TIFF, the world’s most attended film festival. The first was for the blockbuster, The Wedding Party, which went on to become the highest-grossing Nigerian movie of all time.

The cast includes Zainab Balogun, Kenneth Okolie, Deyemi Okanlawon and O.C. Ukeje, with veteran actors Rachel Oniga, Jide Kosoko, Olu Jacobs and Joke Silva, many of whom are expected to join the director in Toronto for the screening.

The soundtrack of the movie features the imprint of award-winning musician, Cobhams Asuquo, and songs by leading Nigerian artistes including, Romeo and Juliet by Johnny Drille; Chemistry by Falz and Simi; Skintight by Mr. Eazi, and Tonight, Ocean and Radio by Nonso Amadi.

Speaking about the film, the Executive Producer, Mo Abudu said, “The Royal Hibiscus Hotel has been a passion project for me – the chance to tell an intimate story that has heart and soul, and explores romantic love in the older and younger generations.”

“The film addresses some of the challenges around communication in relationships, while managing to be funny, warm and entertaining. Many of us have forgotten what it feels like to fall in love – I hope The Royal Hibiscus Hotel re-ignites this feeling in us all,” she added.

Mo noted that receiving such a significant accolade is important, saying that it identifies the movie as a quality title. She further explained that TIFF premiere of The Royal Hibiscus Hotel is good news for filmmakers in Nigeria and the continent as it provides further confirmation that positive African stories are attaining global recognition, which is indicative of improved scripting and higher production values.

According to Adenike Adebola, Guinness Nigeria Plc’s Marketing Director – Guinness, Spirits and Reserve, “Johnnie Walker celebrates the journeys of the Nigerian film industry. For us, the selection of The Royal Hibiscus Hotel to screen at TIFF represents even more of the inspiration that abounds within the next generation of storytellers in Nollywood. We are fully vested in our belief that our films have a rightful place on the global stage.”

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