Viola Davis’ ‘The Woman King’

By Etan Vlessing

Tristar Pictures’ African war epic directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood will bow at TIFF ahead of a Sept. 16 theatrical release.

The Woman King, starring Oscar winner Viola Davis, will have a world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival in September.

With echoes of Black Panther, Davis as General Nanisca in the film leads a fearless all-female African fighting unit into battle against European invaders. The Woman King will get a first look in Toronto ahead of landing in theaters on Sept. 16.

The film is inspired by true events that took place in the Kingdom of Dahomey, one of the most powerful states of Africa in the 18th and 19th centuries. The story follows Nanisca and Nawi, played by Thuso Mbedu, as an ambitious recruit who together fight enemies who violated their honor, enslaved their people and threatened to destroy everything they’ve lived for.

John Boyega plays Dahomey’s ruler, King Ghezo, who is urged on by Nanisca to oppose Europeans aiming to conquer their kingdom. The film also stars Lashana Lynch, Sheila Atim and Hero Fiennes Tiffin.

The Woman King is directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood, The story is by Maria Bello and Dana Stevens and the screenplay is by Stevens. The producer credits are shared by Davis, Cathy Schulman, Julius Tennon and Maria Bello, with Peter McAleese executive producing.

Toronto returns in September for a 47th edition that will be in-person, with Hollywood stars on red carpets and in theaters after two years of disruption from the pandemic. TIFF earlier announced that Netflix’s follow-up to Rian Johnson’s 2019 movie Knives Out, which stars Daniel Craig, Sanaa Lathan’s directorial feature debut On the Come Up, and Clement Virgo’s Brother will have world premieres at the festival.