Category Archives: Film

Interview: Shasha Nakhai, Director of “Take Light”

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Thursday August 14, 2003. Most people in Toronto – and most of Ontario for that matter – still have a vivid memory of that day. My recollection starts around 4pm on that sweltering summer afternoon. I was sitting in front of my computer editing my design portfolio in preparation for a job interview. I briefly stood up to stretch out my legs and just as I was sitting back down, the screen suddenly went blank. I thought I might have mistakenly kicked the extension cord underneath my cramped desk. I kissed my teeth thinking of all the unsaved edits I would have to recreate from scratch. I crouched down underneath the desk, pushed the plugs into the power bar and flicked the power switch a few times but the computer still wouldn’t come on. I looked over at the boxed fan in the corner and noticed that its spinning blades were gradually slowing down to a halt. It took a few more switch flicks and a trip to the circuit breaker to confirm what I had once concieved impossible – there was a power outage. As we say in Nigeria, they have taken light in Toronto!

Outside on the street, the scene felt vaguely apocalyptic. The unresponsive traffic lights created a noisy chaotic mess of car horns honking and screeching breaks. Initially, long queues of people looking for any drink or snack to keep them cool, formed outside convenient stores. A few hours later those same shops were practically giving away tubs of ice creams as they melted down to liquid sludge. By night fall, the mood had turned from restless to festive (or at least resigned). Barbecues were popping up everywhere as people resolved to rescue their meats by eating or sharing as much as possible. Phone lines were down so we roamed the streets paying unscheduled visits to anybody we knew along the way. That night, in pitch darkness, I lay on a mattress in a friend’s backyard and looked up at the sky. It was the first time I had seen so many stars so clearly in the city. For Toronto, the power outage had turned into a big adventure. By the time the problem was fixed the next day, quite a few people were disappointed it had not lasted longer. When the anniversary of “The Blackout” came around, there were even jokes about reenacting it.

In the developing world where more than 1 billion people currently live without electricity, nobody wishes for a power outage. It’s not an adventure, it’s a frustrating nightmare. Throughout my childhood and my frequents visits back to Nigeria, few things have been more constant and disappointing than the electricity issue. We find ways to work around it but we should not have to: Nigeria has one of the world’s largest gas reserves and is Africa’s top energy producer. So why is electricity often limited to a few hours a day to the less than 50% of  Nigerians that even have access to electricity?  In her new documentary, “Take Light”,  opening soon at Hot Docs Festival, Director Shasha Nakhai, explores the Nigerian electricity issue (and it’s many consequences) through the stories of everyday people connected by the grid.

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Your new documentary takes an unflinching look at the electricity crisis that has plagued Nigeria for decades. What is your connection with Nigeria and why did you choose to make this documentary?

Shasha Nekhai: I grew up in Nigeria. I lived there for the first 15 years of my life and my family has been there for about 40 years. Growing up my entire childhood has been framed by the power issues in the country. Almost all of my childhood memories have something to do with NEPA*. I remember some nights my parents would fan me to sleep because there was “no light” and it was too hot and I couldn’t fall asleep. When I came to Canada at 15 and started moving between Canada and Nigeria, it was only then that I realized how absurd the situation was and I think coming up with the idea for the film is rooted in moving between the two worlds.

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David Oyelowo introduces Nollywood at TIFF16!

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*TORONTO* Nollywood has invaded your city for #TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) and we are excited to get in on the action! Nigeria’s homegrown film industry has blossomed into the 2nd largest film industry in the world with an avid fanbase spread across Africa and the Caribbean. In addition to checking out all 8 movies that are part of TIFF’s City to City focus on Lagos, Team #SUPAFRIK will be popping up at some of the Nollywood X TIFF parties, talks and special events. So follow us on Facebook and Instagram for reviews/happenings. Tickets are still on sale through ticketmaster here and we have already given away 6 pairs of tickets through the @SUPAFRIK instagram account and we have still lots more film and after-party tickets to give away. Follow us on instagram and twitter right now! The odds are in your favour.

The City to City focus on Lagos opened up the full exuberance and drama of Nollywood with a screening of “The Wedding Party” which chose TIFF to make its world premiere. The film was well received after this celebratory intro by British-Nigerian actor David Oyelowo set the tone for the rest of the evening.

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SUPAFRIK is coming to NEW ORLEANS! November 12 – 15

We are taking the SUPAFRIK pop-up back on the road again! In less than two weeks we will be touching down in New Orleans for a 4 day food, fashion, art extravaganza! From November 12 – 15, SUPAFRIK will serve as a space and destination event where creative expressions from all over the African continent and communities in the diaspora will meet the rich and multilayered cultural milieux that New Orleans is world famous for.

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We are pulling out all the stops for NOLA! The festivities kick off from 7PM on Thursday with an art exhibit titled “Nesting: The Makings of Home” at The Joan Mitchell Foundation (2275 Bayou Rd) featuring  a selection of works by Shoshanna Weinberger (Newark, New Jersey), Shannon Lewis (Berlin, Germany), Heather Hart(Brooklyn, New York), photographer Patrick Melon (New Orleans) and a performance art piece by Rebecca Mwasse(New Orleans via Zimbabwe) drawn from her latest play Looking At a Broad. Complementary catering will be provided by local Afro-fusion pop-up foodies the Black Swan Food Experience. The SUPAFRIK pop-up shop will also be open for the duration of the four days selling a selection of cutting edge fashion from Osei Duro (Made in Ghana), New Orleans based DopeCiety, a new collection from Chinedesign (Toronto) and top sellers from Blkkangaroo. The shop will also a curated selection of art and art objects from Material Life Nola (including coveted limited edition pieces by Kehinde Wiley and Chris Ofili)

Other events in the line-up include a runway and live-mannequin fashion show, a theatrical production, an art panel discussion on creativity, a movie and an African-themed masquerade ball featuring Grammy-nominated Hot 8 Brass Band (Friday). Not to mention a “Gumbo” party featuring a first time historical collaboration between Toronto and New Orleans DJs connecting the dots by mixing musical flavors from NOLA, Africa and the Caribbean.

It is all as exciting as it sounds. Check back often as we reveal more details over the next few days. We don’t want to overwhelm you with too much goodness at one time!

#MasqueradeTO Behind the Scenes Part 3 (Fitting and Rehearsal)

The last of the behind the scenes series for Chinedesign’s Masquerade which took  place in February. Thanks for making it a huge success! Full coverage of the show will be released this summer.

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#MasqueradeTO Behind the Scenes Part 2 (Couture Kitchen)

A behind the scenes taste of what’s cooking in the couture kitchen for Chinedesign’s Masquerade collection debuting at #MasqueradeTO February 15, 2013.

This video is the second in a series documenting the creative process leading up to the event. Stay tuned for more and visit chinedesign.com/masquerade for more information. Twitter/Instagram: #MasqueradeTO

Video by Anthony DelaCruz. Photographs by Simone Lynn.

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Recap: SUPAFRIK #4 [DC Edition]


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Last month, we partnered up with Lunchbox Theory, took the SUPAFRIK pop-up shop/gallery on the road and made our U.S. debut in Washington, D.C. About 300 people passed through Gallery O on H for the Thursday night launch event which included a fashion show featuring Chinedesign’s newest collection: “Marrakesh”, accesories by Ann & Arayata and an initimate acoustic set by Grammy nominated singer/songwriter and DC native Wayna. In addition to the work of Ethiopian-Canadian artist Kalikidan Assefa, the SUPAFRIK gallery also featured the amazing artwork of 11 local artists from DC/Maryland/Virginia area

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We also had an Afro-House Party with DJ Drewcool and a SUPAFRIK special Food Truck by the Fojol Brothers. DC came out in a major way and the event got alot of positive reviews from The Washington Post (Editor’s Pick!)AllThingsFashionDCLSP and bloggers ThatGirlKellieTriflesandTreasures and Heart|Print|Style. It was also listed as the go to event in HuffingtonPostWashingtonCity PaperDCistPrinceofPetworthThe Ravenous Creator, Fashion Dolls Noir and many more. Check out the {{[[video]]}} below by Siobhan Boland for a teaser of what we got up to in DC and check out instagram to experience it through the eyes of the audience.

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/52979568 w=500&h=400]

(Special Shout Out to the DMV family discovering SUPAFRIK for the first time! Thanks for welcoming us warmly! If you have not already joined us on facebook please do. We update it more regularly than this blog).

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On Now: Africa at TIFF 2012.

Oh how time flies! It feels like it was just yesterday that we were compiling a similar list for the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival. The criteria is simple. We comb through the hundred of movies showing at the festival and shortlist movies that are set in Africa (and the diaspora) or prominently feature people of African origin in the cast or crew. Narrowing it down this way still leaves us with more films than we could possibly see so we filter it further by eliminating films that are likely to get a wide theatrical release, films that sound like many films we’ve already seen e.g the foreign “saviour” stories and films with yawn-inducing blurbs (though we sadly recall a yawn-inducing film from last festival that had a fantastically intriguing blurb). This patented editing process leaves us with an attainable wish-list of films to see. This time around we’ve decided to include trailers of the films where possible so that you can quickly preview them. The SUPAFRIK selection of films to see at TIFF 2012 are (drumrolls please!):

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