The Toronto International Film Festival announced today that this year’s festival, the 41st on record, will show the documentary Giants of Africa, directed by Hubert Davis and featuring the Raptors President and General Manager, Masai Ujiri.
The documentary tells the story of the long (13 year!) development of the Nigerian-born Ujiri’s African basketball camp program that has gradually grown to include four countries — Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana and Rwanda — and countless players, coaches and mentors. Today, Giants of Africa works to bring basketball to kids on the continent while using it as a tool of empowerment. As the first African-born executive in North American pro sports, it’s clear Masai cherishes this ambassadorial role.
From the official press release, Ujiri had this to say:
“On behalf of Hubert Davis and the team that worked so hard to tell the story of these children with a dream in Africa, we are honoured that Giants of Africa will be showcased at one of the world’s greatest film festivals. We believe that sport really can change the world and encourage these youth to dream big. We are very grateful to the Toronto International Film Festival for giving us such a powerful platform to tell their story and ultimately helping these young people realize their potential through the game of basketball.”
As someone who enjoys TIFF immeasurably — this will be my 11th straight year in attendance -- it is really cool to see the Raptors and Ujiri involved. Giants of Africa, the program, has been something I (like many of you) have heard and read about, but it will be a treat to get a chance to see the on-the-ground efforts Masai and the foundation’s staff have put in.
Just to end this on a decidedly Raptors note: This is yet another piece to add to the franchise culture puzzle currently being assembled by Ujiri. It is a resoundingly positive element, another feather in the cap of which the team, city and country can be proud. To hear, for example, Pascal Siakam (the Raptors’ newest member and a Cameroon-born player) mention that he knew of Ujiri before having met him officially, is no small thing. In his way, Masai has become a symbol to the entire continent; to see him give back in the ways he has is truly inspiring.
TIFF runs from September 8th to 18th. No specific times have been announced for Giants of Africa, but you can buy your ticket package today.