BY ‘SEGUN ODEJIMI
It’s a little over 72 hours before the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) kicks off and for some of the Nollywood contingent to the City To City programme which has been dedicated to Lagos, Nigeria, the struggle to get their visa applications approved is real.
93 Days is first up on the City to City schedule with the film set to make its world debut on Sunday, September 11. Steve Gukas, the film’s director confirmed to TNS that he has been able to secure his visa and he plans to jet off to Toronto before Thursday. But he alongside Daniel Oriahi whose Taxi Driver will screen on Thursday, September 15 are among the few fortunate to have had their applications sorted out as at today, Monday.
The Arbitration director, Niyi Akinmolayan told our correspondent that despite his flight being scheduled for this coming Sunday, he is yet to get his visa to Canada. Niyi is not alone as a handful of others who have close affiliations to some of the films expected to show at Toronto have had to push their flight schedules back several times because of their visa troubles.
Reliable industry insiders who spoke to TNS revealed that the visa-related difficulties these filmmakers are facing can be traced to certain numerous individuals and groups who, on the announcement of the City to City programme, began applying for visas. “Some of these people even went ahead to claim that they were affiliated to my film,” one of the affected filmmakers who pleaded anonymity told TNS.
Another source said, “You see, as soon as the announcement was made, these people started applying for visas in multitudes, some as Nollywood Refugees Association and stuff like that.” The source continued, “Now, the TIFF organisers have to call and start sorting out those who have business going to Toronto and those who don’t.”
Niyi also confirmed this saying he has been told by the Canadian embassy that they are attempting to rectify the mix-up and he is hopeful of getting his travelling nod in the next couple of days. TNS learned that a few Nollywood filmmakers had a meeting at the Canadian embassy last week with the aim of having things cleared up so that legitimate members of the contingent can be sorted out as soon as possible.
Despite having secured his own visa, many of Daniel Oriahi’s cast members are still waiting to get theirs. Among the legitimate Nollywood contingent who are confirmed to not have visa issues include Kunle Afolayan, Rita Dominic, OC Ukeje, Ireti Doyle.
“Why can’t these people just accept the fact that they have become obsolete in the industry and stop trying to sabotage our efforts? This is our chance to sell Nollywood to the world and they are trying to bring their racketeering into it,” an obviously frustrated filmmaker who didn’t want their name mentioned said.