Nollywood’s Lagos Brings ‘The Wedding Party’ to the 6ix’s TIFF

You’re invited to the wedding of the year! Lagos’s filmmakers brought fun, laughter, energy (A LOT), vibrant colours, music, dancing, and love with them to the opening night of the Toronto International Film Festival (www.tiff.net) with the world premiere of ‘The Wedding Party’. It also didn’t hurt to get some help from Selma’s David Oyelowo (pronounced – “oh-yellow-oh”) who got the audience pumped up! Whether you were standing in line that wrapped around buildings [as I did] or walking the red carpet, the energy, the experience, and the atmosphere was nonetheless equally intoxicating.

This year’s TIFF will showcase 296 features and 101 shorts played across 28 screens with over 32,320 minutes of film from 80-plus countries (including Nigeria). [Phew!]

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Kemi Adetiba (at podium), known more for her work in music videos and shorts, makes her directorial debut at TIFF | Image credit: Phil Rodriques

The cinema of Nigeria, more popularly called Nollywood, has an impressive legacy in film that goes as far back as the late 19 century and has gone through four eras including the Golden Age. Let’s fast-forward to the present in the era dubbed the New Nigerian Cinema that kicked off in the 2000s, emerging as a force to be reckoned with government support valued at over US$220 million. Nollywood has since become the third most valuable film industry in the world (just behind Hollywood and Bollywood) and in 2014 was worth US$5.1 billion.

Which brings us back to ‘The Wedding Party’ and as the name suggests is a romantic comedy (romcom) film centered on an elaborate Nigerian wedding between Dunni, an art gallery owner and her fiancé Dozie, the son of a magnate. We get a sense of each character as the film has some a good opening couple of scenes, which setups the story and gives us a glimpse of what’s to come. The opening shot of the film takes you on a ride through picturesque Lagos, Nigeria that looked and felt a lot to me like my own country (Jamaica). I was already at ease by the sights and sounds and sank further into the red comfy theatre seats. It’s a party onscreen and it’s a party in the theatre!

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A scene from the wedding reception | Source: TIFF

Everyone’s enjoying themselves and the moviegoers, especially the Nigerians are cheering for almost everything like the montage captures traditional food being served at the wedding reception. The film wastes no time escalating into pure Lagosian chaos thanks to it’s a talented ensemble cast. They’re some of  the biggest names and raising stars in Nigeria’s cinema and under the direction of the film’s first-time feature film director Kemi Adetiba, display great chemistry, depth, range, and comedic timing (as-needed) in their delivery.

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The Wedding Party stars Banky Wellington (Dozie/Groom) and Adesua Etomi (Dunni/Bride) | Source: The Wedding Party

I was lucky enough to be among those viewers seeing the film (The Wedding Party) for the very first time anywhere in the world. I even got tickets for reserved seating (pretty exciting) thanks to my friend, Meg Sethi (President | Founder) and her Team EPR (Evolution Public Relations), who was the publicist for the movie and red carpet event. Not only was I seated about 10 rows from the screen, but the cast and director of the film were seated three rows behind me. My first thought was, “I can’t imagine what it must feel like for them to be seeing themselves onscreen in this project.” This was quickly answered by their cheers and laughter as the film quickly got underway.

There’s dancing. Lots and lots of dancing and throughout the film the infectious rhythms will leave your feet enthusiastically choreographing their own moves. Although, the entire film takes place in one day, we get tremendous glimpses and insight into the relationship shared between Dozie and Dunni from their best friends and family. As we watch their dynamic play out before us, there’s an authentic chemistry between both actor and actress, particularly when Dunni is bombarded with a few embarrassing moments, some involving Dozie’s ex-girlfriend.

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The cast, director, and executive producer of The Wedding Party take questions during a Q&A session | Image Credit: Phil Rodriques

The Wedding Party is jam-packed with funny one-liners, uninvited guests, that ONE friend we wish we didn’t have, and touching moments that combine to make one thrilling roller coaster ride.  It’s brightly coloured sets and costumes and rip-roaring pace make it all worth it at the end. The film runs for all of 110 minutes, but when you’re immersed into the film, you’ll barely notice. You’re left satisfied to have taken part in such a spectacular culture. I give the movie a solid 8 out of 10.

The Wedding Party stars Banky Wellington (Dozie/Groom) and Adesua Etomi (Dunni/Bride) who play the lead characters with their supporting cast that include Richard Mofe-Damijo (Felix Onwuka), Iretiola Doyle (Obianuju Onwuka), Atunyota Akpobome (Bamidele Coker), Sola Sobowale (Tunuade Coker), Somkele Iyamah-Idhalama, and Olusola Abiodun Sobowale with Executive Producer Mo Abudu and Cinematographer Akpevbe Ododoru.

Festival tickets are on sale now for today’s showing (Friday, September 9th) with a third showing slated for Sunday, September 18th at the Scotiabank Theatre Toronto. It’s rated 14A, suitable for viewing by persons 14 years of age or older. Bring some friends and family or go as a date night. I promise you, it’s the most fun you’ll have at TIFF!

Also, be sure to check of the film fest’s cinematic smorgasbord ranging from action and adventure to experimental and the avant-garde.

The How You Living Interview Series: Barcelona, Spain

I wanted to try something new, so I created this interview series dubbed “How you living?!” that will feature glimpses of city living through the lens of some friends of mine. Hopefully 10 to 13 questions are enough. This week, we’re in Barcelona, the city of Picasso’s early years, to discover the fantastic food, nightlife, architecture, and the “perfect weekend”!! Enjoy the interview and leave a comment using your Facebook or Twitter account!

Interviewee: Nicole Harper
Location: Barcelona, Spain

Photo credit: Nicole Harper
Photo credit: Nicole Harper

The Interview

Phil Rodriques (PR): Where are you originally from?
Nicole Harper (NH): I’m from Hamilton in Ontario, Canada – fondly referred to by locals as “The Hammer”.

PR: Why did you move to Barcelona?
NH: While researching my masters thesis in Sweden, I learned about an urban innovation startup called Citymart that was doing really cool things in civic tech. They were hiring at the time, so I applied and got the job – the fact that they were located in BCN [Barcelona] was a total bonus!

PR: What’s the best part about living in Barcelona?
NH: Oh man, it’s difficult to choose among so many perks: unbeatable Mediterranean climate, a simultaneously relaxed and cosmopolitan atmosphere, gorgeous natural surroundings and stunning architecture… and all of it surprisingly affordable! But best of all, I think, is that there is always something fun and interesting going on – it’s impossible to get bored here.

PR: What’s the worst thing about living in Barcelona?
NH: It can be difficult to find well-paid work – the average wage is pretty low here compared to the rest of Western Europe.

Photo credit: Nicole Harper
Photo credit: Nicole Harper

PR: Barcelona is known for its architecture. What’s your favourite historic building(s)?
NH: I love the Palau de la Música Catalana – the thing is an absolute fairytale, especially at dusk. See a show there, because the interior is even more stunning than the incredible façade!

PR: What would you describe as the “perfect weekend” in Barcelona?
NH:  I’m going to assume you spent the week seeing the typical touristy sights like Parc Güell and La Sagrada Familia and describe a local’s perfect weekend to you instead! Here we go: Friday night starts in Poble Sec for post-work tapas on Carrer Blai – La Tasqueta is my favourite place! To really start the party, head to El Rincon del Cava and get your photo on the wall of fame (which happens to cover the entire restaurant!) End the night with dancing at Apolo’s Nitsa Club or Barts.

Saturday is beach day, but there’s a secret catch: the further from the city you go, the better the beaches get 😉 After getting your swim and tan on, check if there are any vintage markets like Lost and Found, Brick Lane or Palo Alto – you’ll get to shop from local designers and sample lots of yummy street food in one go! For dinner, head to Gracia and try some hearty traditional Catalan food at Cal Boter. Dance the rest of the night away at Razzmatazz in Poblenou – with 5 rooms to choose from, you can’t go wrong! Recover on Sunday with a leisurely brunch at Picnic or Brunch and Cake, and then head up to Montjuic for Piknic Electronik – the ideal way to end a perfect BCN weekend like a local!

Photo credit: Nicole Harper
Photo credit: Nicole Harper

PR: What neighbourhoods in Barcelona would you say have the best places to eat?
NH: All of them! Seriously. With the exception of maaaaybe Poblenou, you can’t really go wrong. Just avoid places showing giant menus with photos of the food outside – that’s a big red flag. And don’t eat on La Rambla. Just don’t do it.

PR: Where are the best places to go for the nightlife experience?
NH: Razzmatazz and Sala Apolo are legendary! There’s also La Barceloneta with a ton of more mainstream places like Opium and Carpe Diem. In Eixample you have Bling Bling, Sutton and Otto Zutz. One of my favourites, though, it is a hole in the wall called Magic, where they play oldies and soul!

PR: Where’s your favourite part of the city and why?
NH: I just love my barrio [neighbourhood], El Born. It strikes just the right balance of bohemian elegance – full of cool bars, interesting hangouts and right next to the beautiful Ciutadella Park.

Photo credit: Nicole Harper
Photo credit: Nicole Harper

PR: How do you get around the city on a daily basis?
NH: Barcelona is super walkable, but my main mode of transportation is Bicing – the public bike sharing system. They’ve recently introduced electric bikes, which I’m excited to try!

PR: What’s the most horrific or memorable thing you’ve seen since living there?
NH: The Fiestas de La Mercè are totally crazy. Human towers, giants and TONS of fireworks. Everywhere. There are still holes in my clothes from the flying sparks! More fun and memorable than horrific though, promise.

Photo credit: Nicole Harper
Photo credit: Nicole Harper

PR: Tell us one stereotypical thing about Spaniards that’s true.
NH: They really do eat dinner at around 10pm!

PR: What’s the one thing every visitor must do before leaving Barcelona?
NH: See the façade of the Sagrada Familia – it’s out of the way, expensive to go inside and the crowds are maddening, but at least look at the Passion Façade and be fully awestruck for a moment or two.

Fin!

The How You Living Interview Series: London, England

I wanted to try something new, so I created this interview series dubbed “How you living?!” that will feature glimpses of city living through the lens of some friends of mine. Hopefully 10 to 13 questions are enough. This week, London’s calling (#TheClash) with exceptional museums and art galleries!! Enjoy the interview and leave a comment using your Facebook or Twitter account!

Interviewee: Brendan Cormier
Location: London, England

Photo credit: Brendan Cormier
Photo credit: Brendan Cormier

The Interview

Phil Rodriques (PR): Where are you originally from?
Brendan Cormier (BC): I was born and raised in Toronto, Canada.

PR: Why did you move to London?
BC: I was living in the Netherlands at the time editing a magazine [Volume] about architecture and urbanism. But I was looking for more opportunities to curate exhibitions, because I think they can speak to a broader public. I applied for a job at the Victoria and Albert Museum as a curator, and I got it. The fact that it was in London was a bonus.

PR: What’s the best part about living in London?
BC: For me, it’s about access to so many good people, interesting design practices, great museums, and excellent schools. If you’re doing anything related to design it’s a great place to be.

Photo credit: Brendan Cormier
Photo credit: Brendan Cormier

PR: What’s the worst thing about living in London?
BC: The Rent. Is. Too. Damn. High.

PR: You’re an urban designer. What are your favourite streetscape features throughout London?
BC: I’m a big fan of the post-war housing estates that were produced in London. The Barbican is an obvious one, and it’s truly incredible, but they exist throughout the city, and it’s a delight to explore them all. They aren’t streetscapes in the traditional sense, but the interior layouts of the estates behave like streets, or sometimes even streets in the sky.

Photo credit: Brendan Cormier
Photo credit: Brendan Cormier

PR: These days, you’re a lead curator of 20th and 21st century design working in London that’s steeped in the arts. What are some of the best museums and art galleries you’ve visited?
BC: There are too many to count. When I first moved here, I had the ambition of visiting every one, and would do one per weekend, but I haven’t even scratched the surface. The big ones are excellent like the Tate Modern, the British Museum and of course, the Victoria and Albert Museum. But there are smaller ones with really unusual collections that are worth your while. The Soane Museum is one man’s personal collection all stuffed into one house. The Wellcome Collection is a great source of medical oddities.

PR: What parts of London would you say have the best places to eat?
BC: You can eat well in almost any neighborhood in London. That said, you can find terrible food in any neighbourhood in London as well. So you need to do your research.

PR: Where are the best places to go for the nightlife experience?
BC: Catching a show at Soho Theatre on the weekend will put you in the center of the city with tonnes of people around, and you’ll get a bit of culture while you’re at it.

Photo credit: Brendan Cormier
Photo credit: Brendan Cormier

PR: Where’s your favourite part of the city?
BC: My new neighbourhood, Highbury, which is quiet and boring, which are rare commodities in London.

PR: How do you get around the city on a daily basis?
BC: I started by taking subways everywhere. But now I try to take the bus as often as possible. If you only take the Tube, you never really see the city or learn its geography. But if you sit on the top of a double-decker bus, you get the sights and you also start to connect the dots between places.

Photo credit: Brendan Cormier
Photo credit: Brendan Cormier

PR: What’s the most horrific thing you’ve seen since living there?
BC: Brixton Station at rush hour when an escalator is out of order. It is a mass mob of people slowly shuffling in to catch a train.

PR: Tell us one stereotypical thing about Londoners that’s true.
BC: They drink a lot.

PR: What’s the one thing every visitor must do before leaving London?
BC: Go to the British Museum. It really has some of the greatest treasures of humanity all assembled under one roof.

Fin!

Herjavec Group Expands Into Europe with Acquisition of Sysec LTD

TORONTO, CANADA & LONDON, UK- FEBRUARY 3, 2015– Robert Herjavec, Founder and CEO of Herjavec Group and star of ABC’s Emmy Award-winning hit show Shark Tank, announces the acquisition of Sysec™, a leading IT security solutions provider headquartered in the United Kingdom and the 2014 McAfee EMEA Accredited Certified Engineer (ACE) Partner of the Year. Sysec specializes in information, identity and infrastructure security, offering managed, consulting and professional services to over 200 enterprise clients across the United Kingdom and Europe. Sysec is forecasted to achieve over $20 million in sales revenue for 2015 and has developed a reputation for outstanding technical engineering talent. By acquiring Sysec, Herjavec Group expands its presence in the European IT security market and is well positioned to service its growing multinational customer base.

The Sysec transaction accelerates Herjavec Group’s 3-year, $250 million expansion plan. “We started as a small Canadian firm and have grown exponentially over the past twelve years to 250 team members and $140 million in annual sales revenue,” says Herjavec. “We recognize that the threat of cybercrime is a global challenge and this acquisition provides the platform for Herjavec Group to support our clients overseas with exceptional, localized, managed services 24/7/365”

Sysec’s office in Reading, UK will now serve as Herjavec Group’s European headquarters. The firm will be rebranded as Herjavec Group and continue to expand its product and service offerings throughout the United Kingdom and Europe. Cris Pikes, Sysec’s Managing Director, who will lead Herjavec Group’s European expansion remarks, “Herjavec Group is a world-class information security organization that shares Sysec’s high-touch, customer-first approach. I am confident Herjavec Group will take our managed services practice to the next level.”

The acquisition facilitates Herjavec Group’s plans to complete its “follow-the-sun” technical support structure by developing a London-based Security Operations Centre (SOC) to complement the comprehensive support offered from its world-class, Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliant, Toronto-based SOC and its technical security centre in Las Vegas, Nevada. In addition, Herjavec Group expects to finalize construction of its Los Angeles, California SOC by close of Q1 2015.

“The work we do in enabling enterprises to be more secure has never had a greater focus on a global scale,” says Herjavec. “I am so pleased to embark on our expansion into Europe and welcome the Sysec team to Herjavec Group.”

About Herjavec Group
Dynamic IT entrepreneur Robert Herjavec founded Herjavec Group in 2003, and it quickly became one of North America’s fastest-growing technology companies, accelerating from $400K to $140 million in sales annually over 12 years. Herjavec Group delivers managed security services globally supported by a state-of-the-art, PCI compliant Security Operations Centre (SOC), operated 24/7/365 by certified security professionals. This expertise is coupled with a leadership position across a wide range of functions including compliance, risk management & incident response. Herjavec Group has offices globally including three headquarters in Toronto (Canada), New York City (USA) and Reading (United Kingdom).

For more information, visit www.herjavecgroup.com.

SOURCE The Herjavec Group