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#TIFF16: Genevieve Nnaji & Kunle Afolayan talk about the International Rise of Nollywood at TIFF’s “In Conversation With…” Event




To mark this year’s City to City: Lagos programme, the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival welcomed director Kunle Afolayan and superstar actress Genevieve Nnaji for a conversation about Nigeria’s vibrant film industry and the international rise of Nollywood.

Luminaries in Nigeria’s film scene, Kunle Afolayan and Genevieve Nnaji have attained dazzling success on their own terms.

Speaking at the event, producer and media entrepreneur, Genevieve Nnaji, who is also a major voice in the #BringBackOurGirls campaign, talks about how she strives to generate positive images of Africa.


Following in the footsteps of his father, beloved actor, producer, and director Ade Love, Kunle Afolayan garnered accolades with his directorial debut, “The Figurine”, and continues to innovate as a filmmaker and industry heavyweight.


Hailed as “Scorsese in Lagos” by The New York Times, Kunle Afolayan has elevated the standards of Nigerian cinema over the past decade with elaborate release strategies — including the premiere of “The CEO” on a Lagos-Paris Air France flight — to establish himself as a key driving force behind the new Nollywood.

In this inspiring onstage conversation, Kunle Afolayan and Genevieve Nnaji illuminate the complex dynamics behind the rise of Nollywood.

In-Conversation-With-Genevieve-Nnaji-Kunle-Afolayan-Toronto-International-Film-Festival-September-2016-BellaNaija0002 In-Conversation-With-Genevieve-Nnaji-Kunle-Afolayan-Toronto-International-Film-Festival-September-2016-BellaNaija0007 In-Conversation-With-Genevieve-Nnaji-Kunle-Afolayan-Toronto-International-Film-Festival-September-2016-BellaNaija0005 In-Conversation-With-Genevieve-Nnaji-Kunle-Afolayan-Toronto-International-Film-Festival-September-2016-BellaNaija0003

Photo Credit: Getty Images/Tara Ziemba


  1. sheybtr

    September 12, 2016 at 6:46 am

    International rise of Nollywood? LOL. So many of the movies are low quality with terrible sound, bad acting, whack story lines. no editing etc. Sometime you can even see a movie microphone in a scene. Why do you thing Genevieve hasn’t acted in awhile? I’ve only seen a handful of top notch Nollywood films including A Private Storm, The Stalker, Live to Remember, Friendly Scorpion, The Wisdom of Thomas, Games Women Play, Under Fire and a few others I can’t remember.

    • 6ix

      September 12, 2016 at 8:43 am

      “You are allowed to be a masterpiece and a work in progress at the same time” – Sophia Bush

    • ATL's finest

      September 12, 2016 at 3:14 pm

      @6ix???????????What a PERFECT answer. And to add to that quote, Work hard, have fun & make history ~~~~>>>Jeff Bezos.

      BTW, one smart thing I know came out of Sophia’s mouth :).

    • truthservedhot

      September 12, 2016 at 3:22 pm

      Thank you for this.

    • Truth be told

      September 12, 2016 at 7:11 pm

      Fact of the matter is Nigerian’s do not like criticism. Even though the work may be sub-standard, we don’t want to hear its not great. Competing on the international stage means international standards, it will take time and effort to get there as long as the work is put in and people keep improving. So lets hope the Nollywood filmmakers take on the critics reviews and bring the standard up to par. (Its a bit like the Nigerian luxury apartment, we know it ain’t luxury in NYC, LA and London but its luxury here…get my drift…lol)

  2. Awesome

    September 12, 2016 at 7:04 am

    BellaNaija you guys are too much….
    To be honest, l have been checking your blog every twenty minutes interval since yesterday….
    So, finally I got to see what GENNY looked like last night…..
    Well done guys !
    I would bring out a special time to comment on what I have seen now coz I Speechless …… Still having the woow woow effect !!!

    • Marlvina

      September 12, 2016 at 3:34 pm

      Lol. Inspector!

  3. kenya

    September 12, 2016 at 7:06 am

    God bless these hardworking men and women, who continue to promote Nollywood. Kudos Genny and Kunle

  4. cherry

    September 12, 2016 at 7:19 am

    She looked flawless and so comfortable, may God continue to bless you two for taking Nollywood to greater level

  5. Samira

    September 12, 2016 at 7:56 am

    This lady here made me soooo around last night in Toronto with her ever word Genevieve Nnaji ?? and you looked absolutely flawless….in your own skin and terms you told it all. God bless you ma belle

    • Phil

      September 12, 2016 at 3:44 pm

      You mean #Proud Samira yea? I see what you mean now about comments for the actor lady…Lol. Never mind love, thank you for the tickets last night ?? to hear your ‘Crush’ speak and yes she is truly beautiful however I like the serenity aura she exudes more. Thanks again

  6. Caroline

    September 12, 2016 at 8:05 am

    I am not happy. The international media definately has some issues.
    I have read reviews so far and they are not saying really nice things.
    The best I have read is a review of 76 and they bash the director and praise Rita’s acting and Ramsey Noah. At a point, one writer even wrote that Nollywood is still the same and incharge of its own hype with overflogged, and stories we have seen before.
    We need to ask ourselves if international defines our hardwork and if it is necessary.
    I was really excited about Nollywood at TIFF but after those reviews, I just think that outsiders are doing what they have always done to Africa- take advantage and leave.

    • lily

      September 12, 2016 at 8:37 am

      Of course going international defines success because it is across borders. While it shouldn’t exactly validate you as a person, it definitely means you are doing something right. If you were to make something as little as a scarf for example and someone even in Ghana, not the USA or UK now reached out to you about how they love it and think it has potential bla bla, wouldn’t you be excited? Someone outside your country noticed your effort.
      And for the critics and criticism, how else will the director improve?. You need to see the critique and ratings for movies like Suicide Squad, according to them only Margot Robbie came through. The movie is a box-office hit notwithstanding. Critics will always talk, it doesn’t mean you are a failure and it doesn’t mean ‘people are out to get Africa’. It’s never that serious.

    • mannie

      September 12, 2016 at 8:59 am

      I have read some reviews, and I think they hold some weight. Looking at the trailer of the ’76 movie for instance, it felt rushed and almost like a cut-and-paste job without any fluidity. I could not make out what the movie was about and that is a major turn-off. I remember watching 50 and thought it was poorly written and incredibly bland. If Nigerians want to learn how to make movies that move and convey message, they should look to countries like Israel and Morocco. We are growing, but we are farther from intrernational acclaim than our nollywood elite would have us think.

    • Ammee

      September 12, 2016 at 9:59 am

      what reviews did you read? link please

    • Ammee

      September 12, 2016 at 9:59 am

      what reviews did you see? links please

    • Naijatalk

      September 12, 2016 at 1:19 pm

      Don’t be sad, take it in good stride because criticism should serve to strengthen our movie industry. We do hype ourselves a lot. Some of the things we are lauding about our Nigerian movies showing at TIFF, these nations achieved 20 years ago in their own industry so please pardon them if they are not impressed. To them, there’s really no excuse for less than excellence in this business. Movie critics have a reputation for being extremely harsh and biting with their comments. This not the West colluding against Africa.

    • Tunde

      September 13, 2016 at 10:36 pm

      Ehennnnnn, Gbam, I knew it, I knew this was coming

      i have been waiting for such a comment, way before the TIFF season begun and i watched the previews of all 8 movies. I knew it. I knew that someone like YOU will come on there and cry foul cos the Hollywood Tiff critics did not kiss our asses for our short falls. And this is why We will move ahead as much as we should by now, because africans do not like to take criticism at all. Now you are offended and not happy abi???

      so now you think the critics at TIFF who are same kind of critics for Hollywood movies are critiquing our movies because they hate africans ABI??? cos of the color of our skin??? You do realise there are movies at Tiff from SA, Kenya and Francophone african countries too right and who are not whining about what critics said.

      This is the biggest issue about our nollywood industry. You want everyone to kiss your ass even when the movie has some flaws.. You are in North America now not here in Niigeria so be prepared for cut throat critics, if you dont like it then dont attend TIFF Again, since all you do is perfect in your eyes.

      Even as i sit in here in africa out of the 8 movies 93 was my only best, and maybe 76 just a little bit, The remaining 6 i was actually embarassed it made it to TIFF to represent us on international level. This is our best????? Our very best?? Really? Keep on kissing ass to mediocrity , blowing our own horns as you have since 1900. Go back and watch all the 8 previews of the movies again or better yet wait till all 8 movies come out and come back and comment. Tell me then all movies were perfect to you caroline.

      The quote from the #Tiff16 critic whom you stated said
      “””””Nollywood is still the same and in charge of its own hype with over flogged, and stories we have seen before””…..

      this comment from that critic write is definitely not far from truth, – Well Put.

      Wake UP Nollywood !!!!!

  7. Tracey

    September 12, 2016 at 8:07 am

    Age is telling on Genevieve O.

    • Tare

      September 12, 2016 at 8:35 am

      I can see that your week is already started on a Hating mode ?% so ? but kindly also remember that the energy you give off to the atmosphere is the same you attract so continue. Suffice to say that I witnessed this event live and everything Genevieve and Kunle spoke about was ♠️ and I couldn’t have been more proud of them both despite having travelled many miles, for the event Genevieve Nnaji still killed it in looks, carriage, confidence and energy. If I get to look like her at 37 and achieve half her feats, then to God be the glory…you on the other hand have written your future already …on Bella Nija with plenty witnesses pls try prayers next time

    • Chikita

      September 12, 2016 at 10:03 am

      @Tare and co – She just stated fact. not hating. Age is telling is not a curse word or a fight word, as you seem to think it is, maybe the issue is with you. Nobody in their teens will ever look same in their late thirties. Age is telling and showing. Fact!
      There was a time Onyeka Onwenu looked so different from what she looks like now for instance – its not a curse word, its called AGING. Anything wrong with aging? Make I know oh!

    • Samira

      September 12, 2016 at 3:19 pm

      God bless you real good for your comments. I can imagine how tired she was considering travels involved.
      Well done, since you’re a real troublesome personality who centres only on negativity and ignore the positives. Little wonder we’re our own worst enemies as Nigerians, constantly looking out for flaws and ways to Pull People down, All i see in Genevieve Nnaji is a lady of many feats confident enough to run her life and career on her own terms not minding negativism. Try her approach it might just work for you and keep the wrinkles at bay as it obviously does for the beauty called Genevieve Nnaji – and yes aging is no crime but the motive behind your comments and that of Tracey is what is being addressed here #JustSaying
      @ Odi
      Amen ? and she’ll soar and wax greater too because she’s got God’s Grace and Favour working for her.

    • Kris

      September 13, 2016 at 11:05 am

      Well said Tracey – the mind is such a powerful tool to either pollute or promote your Environment/Life

    • Papa

      September 13, 2016 at 11:56 am

      Tracey, Chikita and Co – A wise person spoke thus, that
      “If you correct your mind, the rest of your life will fall into place”
      – La-tzu

    • Kris

      September 13, 2016 at 11:59 am

      please good observations i meant to type.

      NOT!!! @Tracey

    • Busarni

      September 12, 2016 at 9:39 am

      @Tracey; you are not a good person. We all are born to grow old; so WTF if she is getting old? Do i take it you don’t want to grow old or you want to die young to avoid signs of old age? Please , i will need you to answer;;; criticize constructively.

    • Thatgidigirl

      September 12, 2016 at 10:28 am

      Thank you!!! Our prayer is not to die prematurely, so why is getting old a bad thing?

    • Hot Sumtyn

      September 12, 2016 at 9:58 am

      Bitch where?

    • Babious

      September 12, 2016 at 12:45 pm

      Peter Pan,So???

    • The Real Oma

      September 12, 2016 at 2:56 pm

      Which age though? This woman right here looks amazing and to think she is 37???
      Those asking why Tracey’s comment is being attacked should be honest with themselves and admit it was a shade, only a baseless one…

    • Tiga

      September 13, 2016 at 10:55 am

      @ Tracey @Chikita
      If you correct your mind, the rest of your LIFE will fall in place
      – Lao-tzu
      Misinformation often leads to assumptions, then malice, anger and Jealousy and pretty much more….so please start by correcting your minds FIRST and never forget it.

  8. Prince

    September 12, 2016 at 8:10 am

    OMG!!! KING GENEVIEVE repping!!! #slaynevieve. ???

  9. Mee

    September 12, 2016 at 8:20 am

    Genevieve is KINGING with the age telling, pls remind me….who the HELL ARE YOU AGAIN??? yea…….just as i thought #Anobody when you’ve flown how many miles to be the star of an epic event like this IN YOUR NEXT LIFE (since you’re a nonentity in this one) and still have this face and confidence and power like QUEEN GENEVIEVE NNAJI then bring your real face up and comment likewise. Hater o’de ooshiiiii!!!

    • OJ

      September 12, 2016 at 1:03 pm

      why do u women folk always like bashing each other sef?…hian, tufiakwa for una

  10. Market boy

    September 12, 2016 at 9:19 am

    is it legal for BN to put their tags on getty images

    • David.

      September 12, 2016 at 10:05 am

      Bella Naija purchases their own images from Getty. That’s why they can put their watermarks on them.

    • Lala

      September 12, 2016 at 2:32 pm

      That you purchased the images does not give you the right to tag it. What of Linda who takes photos without permission?

    • Douglas

      September 12, 2016 at 10:27 am

      Abeg help me tell them oh..once an image is not ours, its not yours simple

  11. Chikita

    September 12, 2016 at 10:09 am

    The one person I know that age is not really telling on is Omotola J.E. for some reason. Looks like ‘Age is telling’ is trending on Bella Naija.. Age is telling on Stephanie Okereke too. Who else. haba! Bella Naija still looks same to me, in fact she is glowing more sef! Gabrielle Union is aging backwards, yeah she looks better than she did 10years ago, who else? I dey come! Una wait for me!!! Again I repeat, its not curse word. Grow up people!

    • Anonymous

      September 12, 2016 at 1:30 pm

      Yours is a troublesome personality in real life. How can you derive pleasure in fanning flames?

    • Samira

      September 12, 2016 at 3:30 pm

      You need a break from your smart phone/tablet/computer cos you’re spilling dust all over here …. Here’s my advice (no offence) go on the pictures from this event on google or social media platforms like twitter and Instagram – your first assignment, then secondly compare all photos Genny took with friends and colleagues, features et al inclusive then, drink some water, eat some good lunch for energy, before you return back here for a well informed chat on #ProperAgingComparism -that you think you know hmmm….???

    • Puzzles

      September 12, 2016 at 5:44 pm

      You’re just mad they asked Genny to speak, not Omotola

    • Duke

      September 12, 2016 at 11:16 pm

      Shut up already please.

    • Papa

      September 13, 2016 at 11:52 am


  12. Richard

    September 12, 2016 at 10:46 am

    Genny, you are Bay….. Effortlessly Gorgeous…. Sublime & Divine…. So so classy, from your hair to the dress, the accessories, carriage , let me not talk about those shoes…. Everything is so on point !
    Thumbs up to you and Kunle for making us proud @TIFF16


    September 12, 2016 at 12:22 pm

    @Caroline or BN if you have the chance, please share the links to the reviews of the Nigerian movies. I followed thw TIFF hashtag and all i saw were foreign moviea! The truth is, we are getting there with our movies, production and acting can be great but when it comes to the script and plot, you can sometimes feel like killing yourself. Some movies hit the mark while others don’t. Another thing is when the foreign media say it, I believe our directors will listen and pay more attention to detail when it comes from the local movie critic sites, they believe we are hating and don’t even know what we are talking about. Kudos to Kunle and Genevieve. If I know Kunle well he will be networking his way to get partnership for his next production, keep our flag flying guys.

  14. Odi

    September 12, 2016 at 1:50 pm

    King Genny looking like a teenager. Loving the outfit and poise. While they hate, you soar. Keep shining sweetly, you will always be number one…effortlessly.

  15. Tosin

    September 12, 2016 at 8:06 pm

    Really proud! Can’t wait to hear how the interview went. Step-by-step Nolly! To greatness.

  16. oshoke

    September 12, 2016 at 9:09 pm

    it is very sad that Genevieve when they read her credits could only name Ije and Half of a yellow sun. what happened to all the 80 credits. none of them are good enough. she needs to work more. Omotola is working but it is her bad attitude that will not allow her become recognized internationally. all the time things was bought for her. But Genny goes international effortlessly. she just needs more credits. not 2. why? Even Rita Dominic has more better film credits. can someone explain why?

    • Joseph

      September 13, 2016 at 12:05 pm


  17. Josephine

    September 12, 2016 at 10:31 pm

    Sorry to say BN, can you get better pictures? I’m not a Genevieve fan so I’m being factual to say she looks much better at this same event in pictures other blogs used. I’ve noticed it with other stories like pictures of Lupita is her head tie, looking just ok here but very nice elsewhere. And Mo Abudu too. Her neck looked funny here a few days back but other blogs use more flattering pictures.

  18. nnenne

    September 12, 2016 at 10:58 pm

    There goes my African queen, comfortable in her skin, representing Africa!

    I have no doubt in my mind that Nollywood will get better.
    The criticisms should be taken with good faith and worked on.
    Just don’t loose the Africa content. That’s what makes Nollywood unique and special!
    Less nudity and profanities, please?

  19. Lilian

    September 13, 2016 at 2:35 pm

    Sweet Genevieve.

  20. Lilian

    September 13, 2016 at 2:43 pm

    Sweet. Genevieve.

  21. Hycien

    September 13, 2016 at 9:47 pm

    It’s so overwhelming knowing that Genny is for ever pushful,patriotic and elegant… She knows wat suit an occasion absolutely, look at her sexy smiles on stage, enchanting beauty at 37. Oh ma good God this an angel lost in heaven, found in #africa…. Cheeeeeeers

  22. Phoebe

    September 13, 2016 at 10:58 pm

    instead of you ass kissers ohhhing and aahhing on gennys beauty, can you focus on what was important topic that was discussed.

    This is the problem most nigerians have, they will be quickly praising and kissing stars asses and not talking about important issues.. for once try and hold intelligent discussion and debate and stop the ohiing and ahhhing on Genny. Am sure even she will be a lil bored with the continous ass kissing as showcased all over her social media pages.

    What else is new?? huh?

    • Busarni

      September 14, 2016 at 9:18 am

      @phoebe; who intelligent discussion help?. Dont be too uptight….

  23. Tosin

    September 15, 2016 at 1:23 am

    I just watched the video elsewhere – wow, amazing. The “In Conversation With…” hour-long chat with Kunle Afolayan and Genevieve Nnaji. Thanks again for your coverage of this festival.

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