EbonyLife Films and its co-producers, Netflix, announced yesterday that Elesin Oba, The King’s Horseman will have its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in September 2022.
Based on real events in Nigeria in 1943, Elesin Oba will feature in the prestigious Special Presentation category, the first Yoruba-language film to do so.
Set in the Oyo Empire between sunset and sunrise, the king’s horseman, Elesin Oba, must ritually commit suicide to follow his deceased king into the afterlife. His best intentions are derailed by his sexual desires, leading to catastrophic consequences and ending in a deadly confrontation with the then British rulers. The horseman is unable to fulfill his ultimate pledge to the king, letting his spirit wander the land, heralding the death of the land and its inhabitants.
The original Death and the King’s Horseman was a play written by Professor Wole Soyinka, who won Africa’s first Nobel Prize for Literature in 1986. It is the first time that Death and the King’s Horseman has been made into a long footage. The screen adaptation was written and directed by Biyi Bandele.
The film stars Odunlade Adekola as Elesin Oba, Shaffy Bello as Iyaloja, and famed musician Olawale ‘Brymo’ Olofooro as Praise Singer making his screen debut. They are joined by Deyemi Okanlawon, Omowunmi Dada and veteran actors Jide Kosoko and Kevin Ushi.
Also featured are Jenny Stead and Mark Elderkin as Jane and Simon Pilkings, Langley Kirkwood, and a special appearance from acting legend Taiwo Ajai-Lycett and Ajoke Silva.
Cameron Bailey, Film Critic and CEO of TIFF, said, “It was a pleasure to see Soyinka’s words and mastery of tragic drama translated into cinema. Odunlade gives a grand and impressive performance.
Mo Abudu, CEO of EbonyLife Group and Executive Producer of the film, said, “In filming Elesin Oba, we chose to stay close to the original work, which is already well known around the world as a prime example of African drama. It is an honor to see this fascinating introduction to African thought and tradition on screen. His intertwining of European and Yoruba ideals to portray universal themes of cultural responsibility has never been more important than now.
The world premiere of Elesin Oba, The King’s Horseman is scheduled for September 10, 2022 in Toronto, Canada.