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Nigerian filmmakers in Canada challenge humanity with Empathy



Austin Odigie displaying the five awards won by Empathy the Toronto International Nollywood Film Festival (tinff)

It may sound utopian given the strife and discrimination going in various parts of the globe today, but a world filled with people who love each other irrespective of tribe, culture, class, race, nationality, skin colour, religion or political differences ‎would definitely be a better place.

The challenge of working towards realisation of such a near perfect world was thrown to humanity during world premiere of Empathy, a film directed by Director, Black Actors and Film Guild (BAFG) Ottawa Canada, Austin Odigie.

The virtual screening of the movie written by Maissa Houri-Charron which won five awards at the recent Toronto International Nollywood Film Festival (tinff) was held virtually to critical acclaim of players in the industry.

Empathy was described as creative, educative, interesting and filled passion with incredible facial expressions and excellent body language by those who were part of the world premiere hosted by Founder/ Director, BAFG Canada, Isioro Jaboro.

The premiere, held on Zoom platform and was well attended by industry players including, Assistant Director, Vancouver Films Productions, Ambrose Okundaye; Co-Founder and Director, BAFG Canada, Tori Jaboro and members of BAFG, Folu Odunlami and Blaze Bokini.

Others are; award winning Nollywood Film Director and Founder, Benin Film Academy, Lancelot Imasuen; Chief Executive Officer, Prolens Movies Limited, Peddie Okao; President, Directors Guild of Nigeria, Edo State Zone, Davison Izegaegbe and Executive Director of the movie “Empathy” for Broadlens Media Associates Incorporated, John Emmanuel.

Expounding on love, the theme of Empathy, Odigie, said every human being must learn to show love to get love, irrespective of tribe, culture, class, race, nationality, skin colour, religion or political differences.

He added that the movie aims to encourage a world where people can love each other without barriers.

“There has been so much hate in the world and the need for true love must continuously be emphasized for us to have a better and peaceful world that would be devoid of hate, killings, racial discrimination, corruption, kidnappings and attacks, among others,” he said.

Odigie said Empathy was his own way of lending his voice to a positive change towards curtailing the trends of terrorism and the oppression of the poor by the rich elite.

In the same vein, Houri-Charron, said the movie preaches that all human are one and connected by love, regardless of family ties and differences.

Emmanuel said Empathy is more than a movie. He said the message of global love is one which all human must embrace.

He said: “For us in Broadlens Media Associates Incorporated, Empathy is a vision with a clear message that people around the world must see the need to unite against racism, racial discrimination and reach out to one another with acceptance and compassion. Empathy shows the need to spread the message of love across and to let the world know that black live matters,” Emmanuel said.

Imasuen congratulated the team, saying it is good to know that Nigerians in the Diaspora are keeping the Nollywood spirit up.

He said the movie has depth, creative, interesting and engaging: “This is a great movie by a great team. I see good camera work, intensity in the eye of the actors and good pictures. ” ‎

Okao thanked the team for representing Nigeria well in Canada, while he sought opportunities between them and film makers at home for collaboration on productions in the nearest future.

“This is a good work and we hope to be able to do a lot of cross over movies together. I am glad you all did this. I am moved by the depth of the story, it is connecting, demonstrated willingness and the grace to make sacrifice across huge distance is great, “he said.

Okundaye, said the vision and execution of the movie is fantastic. “I like the movie, the camera work and cinematography is exquisite. The actors were all on point and great,” he said.

Jaboro said the movie is inspirational, has the right cast, good story line and amazing team.

He explained that BAFG is an organisation put together to empower black actors and black film makers in Canada, give them opportunities, train and encourage them.

The movie Cinematographer/Editor, Ramy Raphael, said Empathy has beautiful messages of compassion, acceptance, generosity, kindness, determination and strength.

One of the actors, Katherine Stella Duncan, said the movie is about connection and compassion, adding, its message is to inspire human to show empathy, and to use our gifts and talents to help others.

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