Magazine article Variety

EbonyLife Is Back with ‘Hotel’

Magazine article Variety

EbonyLife Is Back with ‘Hotel’

Article excerpt

ROMANCE brings some sizzle to the kitchen of "The Royal Hibiscus Hotel," Nigerian director Ishaya Bako's romantic comedy, which world-premiered Friday in Toronto.

The latest venture for EbonyLife, the lifestyle TV network and production company founded by media mogul Mo Abudu, "Royal Hibiscus" is a polished, crowd-pleasing comedy full of easy laughs from an all-star cast drawing on both rising talents and veterans of Nigeria's Nollywood and Yoruba-language film industries.

Described by Abudu as "an African fairy tale," pic tells the story of Ope, an aspiring chef in London who returns to Nigeria to rescue her parents' struggling hotel, where she's wooed by the wealthy investor looking to buy her father out.

Ope pursues her dream of creating a fusion cuisine that melds her country's home-cooking with foreign flavors; a desire that dovetails with Abudu's own cinematic mission to find a "balance between what Nigerians want, and what can also have international appeal."

In some ways, director Bako's sophomore effort mirrors his own journey as a filmmaker. Like Ope, who finds opportunity knocking in Nigeria, the alum of the London Film School returned to Lagos at a time of great optimism, when the economy was booming and many young Nigerians were coming home. …

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