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The Toronto International Film Festival ended on Sunday 16th September 2018 with hundreds of films screened during the eleven days of the festival, from which films were voted for several awards. One of the films nominated for the grande prize, The Grolsch People’s Choice Award, was Lionheart, by Nigerian star actor/director Genevieve Nnaji.

The Grolsch People’s Choice Award

The movie, which premiered earlier at the festival, was nominated to become this year’s most popular film with audiences at the festival. The winner of the Grolsch People’s Choice Award is usually chosen based on a fair voting system which includes viewers voting by leaving the stubs of their tickets in designated boxes. The votes are thereafter counted and weighed against the number of screening audience per film. Winners of this award most often got Academy Award nominations, so often that winning the TIFF Peoples choice awards was considered by many as a guarantee for an Oscar nomination. Although Lionheart failed to clinch the award at the end of the festival, the performance of the film has so far shown that Nollywood is a force to reckon with in the global entertainment industry and that our films can stand shoulder to shoulder with some of the best films in the world. The film also made many firsts;
  • first ever Nollywood film to be nominated in the highest category of the TIFF,
  • first ever Nollywood film to have caught Netflix’s attention so much that it bought up its rights,
  • first ever film to be directed by the star actress.
It is not in doubt that Genevieve Nnaji’s film has caught worldwide attention owing to how well it performed at TIFF, and how much publicity this has been given by international news platforms including the BBC World Service and CNN. The Nigerian film industry – Nollywood will be the better for it as it will also enjoy the attention Lionheart brings.

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This article was first published on 18th September 2018


Akwaowo Willie is a social media consultant for several businesses including SMEs and Startups. He is also an entrepreneur and writer with interests in entertainment, media, fashion, among others. He is married, with 2 adorable children.

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