“Elesin Oba (The King’s Horseman)” has been selected to showcase at the 47th edition Toronto International Film Festival, becoming the first Yoruba-language film to premiere at the festival.
The Netflix and EbonyLife Films historical drama is based on actual events that occurred in Nigeria in 1943 and set in the Oyo Empire, in which the King’s horseman, Elesin Oba, must commit ritual suicide to follow his deceased King into the afterlife.
However, his desires derail his plans, leading to catastrophic consequences and a deadly clash with the British rulers of the day. As a result, the horseman cannot fulfil his ultimate commitment to the King, leaving his spirit to roam the earth, spelling doom for the land and its people.
The film is based on the stage play “Death and the King’s Horseman,” written by Wole Soyinka, who in 1986 won Africa’s first Nobel Prize for Literature. The film is the first of his works to be made into a feature film. The screen adaptation was written and directed by Biyi Bandele.
Elesin Oba, The King’s Horseman stars Odunlade Adekola as Elesin Oba, Shaffy Bello, and musician Olawale ‘Brymo’ Olofooro as the Praise Singer, making his screen debut.
The cast also includes Deyemi Okanlawon, Omowunmi Dada, and veteran actors Jide Kosoko and Kevin Ushi. Also featured are Jenny Stead, Mark Elderkin, Simon Pilkings and Langley Kirkwood.
Cameron Bailey, TIFF CEO, said, “It was so wonderful to see Soyinka’s words and his mastery of tragic drama transformed into a film. Odunlade Adekola gives a great, impressive performance.”
Sharing her delight, EbonyLife Group CEO Mo Abudu, also the executive producer of the film, said, “In filming Elesin Oba, we chose to stay close to the original work, which is already well-known globally as a great example of African drama. It’s an honour to see this compelling introduction to African thought and tradition on screen. The interweaving of European and Yoruba ideals to depict universal themes of cultural responsibility has never been more important than now.”
“Elesin Oba, The King’s Horseman” will premiere at the festival on 10 September 2022.