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August 11, 2011

Anchor Baby: Synopsis/Introducing The Cast And Crew.


Alpha Galore Films (2010)
Logline: Anchor Baby is the highly emotional story of an
illegal immigrant couple living in the United States, on a
journey to achieve the American Dream for their unborn child.
Running time: 93 minutes
Format: DCP
Written, Directed & Produced by
Lonzo Nzekwe
***Winner*** BEST FILM Harlem International Film Festival 2010
***Winner*** BEST ACTRESS Harlem International Film Fest 2010
***Winner*** BEST SCREENPLAY Los Angeles Movie Awards 2010
***Winner*** AWARD OF EXCELLENCE Canada Intl Film Fest 2010
Anchor Baby: a term applied to a child born to an illegal immigrant
or other non-citizen, who, under current legal interpretation,
becomes a United States citizen at birth. An anchor baby is said to
be a device by which a family can find legal foothold in the U.S.,
since those children are automatically allowed to choose American
citizenship. As an American citizen, the child qualifies for welfare
and other state and local benefits. Additionally, with the passage of
the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act, the child may sponsor
other family members for entry into the United States when he or
she reaches the age of twenty-one.


Married, illegal immigrant couple Joyce (Omoni Oboli) and Paul Unanga (Sam Sarpong) have been ordered by the U.S.

immigration to leave the country. They decide that they will leave, but only after Joyce, who is five months pregnant, delivers her
baby in the U.S. This will guarantee automatic U.S. citizenship for their child. Ignoring the deportation order the couple go into
hiding. Later, Paul is caught and deported by a team of Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers, led by agent Mark
Castello (Michael Scratch). This leaves Joyce to struggle on her own to accomplish their dream.
But bureaucracy keeps getting in the way of Joyce achieving her goal and just as she is about to give up hope, she meets
Susan Backley (Terri Oliver), a married freelance writer who offers to help in the form of safe, free accommodation until the baby
is born. With the help of her newfound friend, Joyce sets out to make the ‘American Dream’ come true for her unborn child.

Anchor Baby highlights the struggles of many immigrants in the United States and other developed countries across the world,
and features Nigerian “Nollywood” star Omoni Oboli (Figurine,Guilty Pleasures), British/Ghanaian LA-based Sam Sarpong
(Street Kings, The Dedd Brothers, Keeping Up with the Steins) and Canadian actress/songwriter Terri Oliver.
* * *

Anchor Baby marks the feature film debut of writer/director/producer Lonzo Nzekwe. Ian Sun and Jeremy Hood served as coproducers,
and Malachi Richards is the Associate Producer. Cinematography by Richardo Diaz (Gospel Challenge, Five Days to
Fame: The Miss World Canada Story), production design by Johnny Nghiem (Nostrum), costume design by Julianna Clarke
(Happy Now), and editing by Matthew Johnson and Lonzo Nzekwe. Anchor Baby is set in the United States, but was shot in
Brampton, Toronto and Hamilton, Canada.

Writer/director Lonzo Nzekwe, born in Nigeria, now a landed immigrant in Canada, had never written a screenplay in his life. He was not
a devotee of cinema and nor was he one of those people who had wanted to be a filmmaker since he was young. But he started
developing a great passion for cinema early in 2009. In September of that year, at the age of 35, he encountered the term ‘anchor baby’
and it had a significant impact on him. “I had heard stories about immigrants taking all sorts of risks to have a baby in the U.S. so the
child could become a citizen. I thought about what kind of desperation could push someone to take such a huge risk in life and the many
things that could go wrong in this kind of situation. The more I thought about it, the more I realized this could be a movie.”
For the remainder of 2009, Nzekwe taught himself filmmaking. He purchased his own Red camera, bought a 2-Day Film School DVD by
Dov Simens, read books and took a course on film editing. Up to that point, his only on-set experience was watching a music video being
shot by his co-producer, Ian Sun. In January 2010, he began the process of writing the screenplay, brought in Ian Sun and Jeremy Hood
as co-producers, and by April, he was ready to begin principal photography.


The subject of anchor babies is currently a hot topic in the U.S. because of a bill which Republican State Senator Russell Pearce and
State Representative John Kavanagh intend to formally introduce in Arizona legislature. This bill will reverse a standing interpretation that
grants citizenship to all people born on U.S. soil.
But that is not what Nzekwe was thinking about. Nor was he focusing on the impact on social services or even the dehumanization of the
terminology or the unfairness of immigration policy. He was thinking about the babies. “My story shows that the kids are the ones who
suffer the most in these types of situations because the parents can decide to stay or return to the country they are from, but the kids do
not have a choice. This story is not only about Joyce, Paul or Susan. It’s really about the kids,” explained Nzekwe.

“This is a story about a Nigerian couple, Joyce and Paul Unanga, who came into the U.S. and ran out of status, but they wanted to have
their baby there so their child could be an American citizen and not go through the struggles that the parents went through,” says actress
Omoni Oboli who plays the part of Joyce. When the story begins, Joyce is well along in her pregnancy. Her husband, Paul, is working
illegally and they are able to manage financially. She is out for a walk one day and upon returning home, she sees her husband being
led away by the Immigration authorities. Even though Joyce has eluded capture, she knows it is no longer safe to remain in their
With four months left until their child is born, a time when most women are at their most vulnerable, Joyce is left alone in a foreign land
with very limited funds and without the ability to see a doctor or even rent an apartment because she lacks the necessary documentation.

As a mother of three boys, Oboli reacted strongly to the role. “This woman was going to do everything in her power to have her baby in the
United States, but it is heart-wrenching. If it was me, I would totally freak out.”

Anchor Baby is Oboli’s first international film, having acted in Nigeria since the age of three. Knowing that the role of Joyce would carry
the film, Nzekwe reached out to a colleague from his home country for casting. Oboli is well known in Nollywood (the moniker given to
the Nigerian film industry which has surpassed production output of Hollywood and is now second only to Bollywood), so Nzekwe sent
her a script. But it wasn’t a complete script - he left off the ending to see what she would say. The result was a call from Oboli, anxious to
know how the film ended and that was the kind of interest a first-time filmmaker wanted to hear.

In order to find an actor to portray Paul, Joyce’s husband, Ian Sun referred Nzekwe to the actor, Sam Sarpong. The role of Paul Unanga
is brief and to the point. He is a good husband who has brought his wife to the United States. There, she becomes pregnant and together
they decide to stay in the U.S. until the child is born. He is a supportive man and thoughtful about protecting his wife. Even after he is
deported, he stays connected with his wife, albeit by cell phone, offering encouragement during this time of strife.

Sam Sarpong has a career that spans acting, music and modeling; Nzekwe initially spoke with Sarpong by telephone and it was then
when they realized the actor’s biggest challenge would be to learn a Nigerian accent. Sarpong hired a dialect coach and decided the
best way to convince Nzekwe that he could be believable as Paul was to cold call him. “I didn’t know it was Sam,” said the director. “It
was just someone calling me and speaking with a Nigerian accent and that convinced me he could pull it off. He took a chance on me
and I took a chance on him and it worked out in the end.”

When Joyce Unanga is at her wit’s end, standing in a medical clinic, having been turned away because she lacked medical insurance,
she meets Susan Backley, played by Terri Oliver, another patient in the waiting room. From the moment Susan comes on screen, she
engenders a sense of hope coming to Joyce’s rescue in more ways than one. Susan opens her home to Joyce, offering room and board
and protection from Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents for the remaining few months. She even extends the services of an
immigration lawyer, who is a friend of Susan’s family. Why she lends such a generous helping hand makes itself known as the story
evolves: Susan has a comfortable life, but an increasingly strained marriage to her husband, Tim (Colin Paradine). She has been trying
to conceive and eventually gets the good news that she is pregnant. While Tim does not seem particularly happy with the news, Susan
and Joyce revel in their pregnancies.

“I took this part because the story is very subtle,” said Terri Oliver. “It’s my first time back acting after developing my career as a singer,
and Susan was such a fascinating character, I had to make the leap. There are so many twists and turns. On one hand, Susan seems
like a good woman, but on the other hand you see she is betraying her husband by having an affair; yet, you forgive her because she is
helping Joyce. I just loved the experience.”

The character of Jose Rosario, portrayed by actor Cyrus Faird, is one that Nzekwe found very satisfying. “This character was written to
showcase the life that Joyce and Paul were hoping to achieve. Jose, another illegal immigrant, had already accomplished having a son
who became an American citizen by birth. The problem with Jose is that he is a loose cannon and didn’t appreciate what he had.”

Even though the main characters hail from Nigeria, Nzekwe said, “This is not just a Nigerian story or even an African story. It's a story
that affects the lives of many other races across the world. There are many so-called anchor babies around the world, and I’d like this
movie to open up a discussion about who is actually looking out for these kids. At the end of the day, it is bad decisions made by the
parents, or by politicians that affect these kids who are thrown into this kind of situation.”


Omoni Oboli (Joyce Unanga) Omoni studied Foreign Languages (majoring in
French) at the University of Benin, Nigeria (1995-1999) and started acting at the
age of 3 but began her formal movie career in 1996 with her first movie role in
Bitter Encounter. This was quickly followed by a featured role in Shame, then as
the lead female characters in Not My Will, Destined to Die and Another Campus
Tale. After receiving critical acclaim for these roles, Omoni stepped away from
the spotlight to complete her university education, married her beau, Nnamdi
Oboli and had 3 children. She returned to acting in 2006 and since then, her star
has quickly risen again, playing a number of lead and supporting roles in major
feature films.
Omoni is also a gifted writer with several screenplays to her credit including the movie Fatal Imagination. In June 2007, The
Rivals, a movie she co-produced, won the coveted prize for Best International Drama at the New York International Independent
Film & Video Festival. It was the first Nigerian film to be premiered since the festival’s inception in 2003. The movie was given a
3-star rating out of 4 by the festival’s judges. Playing lead roles in blockbuster movies like The Figurine has set her apart as
knowing how to choose good screenplays.

Sam Sarpong (Paul Unanga) Sarpong has appeared in over sixty feature films and over fortyfive
television shows including Warner Brothers hit Love Don’t Cost a Thing, Gary Marshall’s
Keeping Up with the Steins, and also played one of the leads in the critically acclaimed Spike
Lee TV movie Sucker Free City. Sam recently played “Teshon Riley” opposite Keifer
Sutherland in Fox’s hit TV show 24. In 2001 Sam received an AFI Independent Film award for
Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of Louis in the film Street Kings. He recently completed
the highly anticipated comedy pilot Glass Heels and appears in five feature films due for
release in 2010 & 2011 including the psychological thriller Farmhouse, the comedy The Melting
Pot, the horror film The House that Jack Built, and will also star in the investigative drama
Sam is also an established television host (MTV’s Yo Momma with Wilmer Valderrama) and over the past three years, he cohosted
ABC’s The Soap Network. He’s done red carpet duty for the Daytime Emmys and co-hosted Donald Trump’s Miss
California beauty pageant for the past five years. Sam was the face of Tommy Hilfiger for over six years and is one of only three
black male models ever to sign an exclusive contract with a designer alongside Tyrese and Tyson Beckford. Sam has twice
been named one of fifty most beautiful people in the world by “Today’s Black Women” magazine and in 2005 was named by YM
as one of fifty most beautiful people in the world. Also a respected rapper, Sam has appeared on over forty movie soundtracks
and television shows, collaborating with Mos Def and Beyonce on the “Carmen: A Hip Hopera” soundtrack.

Terri Oliver (Susan Backley) An indendependent singer/songwriter, Terri has been busy earning
a stellar reputation as a live musician and recording artist in Canada and internationally. Having
shared the stage with acclaimed musicians such as Al Green, James Brown, Parliament, Rah
Digga, Nelly Furtado, Jacksoul, Divine Brown and Ray Robinson, Terri is pleased to release her
first independent album entitled, Exponentially, a collection of jazz and blues classics with a few
contemporary and original gems. As a veteran of the Canadian music industry, Terri’s work has
been featured on Canadian television including her top 10 hit, “Sassy Thang” which she co-write
with members of X-Quisite. Anchor Baby marks Terri’s return to acting.
Mark Cassius (John Rogdougougan) is a versatile, world-class entertainer whose talents have been featured across North
America, Europe and Asia. A graduate of Sheridan College’s Music Theatre Diploma Program, Mark has been featured in
Ragtime and Shenandoah (on Broadway), CATS and The Music Of Andrew Lloyd Weber In Concert at the Shaw Festival,
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (with Donny Osmond), Miss Saigon and Showboat. He was featured in the role
of ‘Mr. Magix’ in The Stratford Festival’s 2007 production of My One And Only, and was critically acclaimed for his performance.
He also spent eight years with the internationally-renowned a cappella group, The Nylons. Since leaving the group in 2005, he
has been working with many aspiring professionals, instructing them in the disciplines of music and theatre. His work as a music
producer, director, writer and teacher, continues to inspire those in pursuit of creative excellence.

Colin Paradine (Tim) has been acting for the better part of fifteen years, both on stage and film, appearing in countless film and
theater productions. His credits include Flander's First and Last for CBC television, two BRAVO!fact shorts (Living History and
Come Fly With Me), Snow Summit Shredders, 48 Hours In Purgatory, Stripped, and Dead Genesis. He can also be seen as a
recurring character in the online serials The Brotherhood of Leet and Vivian Cannon P.I. He also has a recurring role in the
sitcom The Decline of Lord Conway of Preston. Colin plays drums in the hard rock band, Waiting For Grace; and is also an avid
writer. He has written several screenplays, mostly of the horror genre plus comedy and action scripts. Also included in his writing
projects are a few shorts as well as a couple of children's novels.


Lonzo Nzekwe was born in Enugu State; but a native of Abia State, Nigeria. In 1997 he moved
to England, and in 1999, he triangulated between England, the U.S. and Nigeria. During that
period, he enrolled in different diploma programmes. He earned a Master Course diploma
certificate in Recording Engineering from Audio Institute of America and also CompTIA A+ and
CompTIA Network+ certifications. From 1999, he worked as a music producer with various local
hip-hop and R&B music artists. In 2005, Nzekwe took a break from music production and moved
to Canada where he honed his film writing and directing skills. A self-taught filmmaker, he
developed his Final Cut Pro editing expertise by enrolling at WITZ Training (Canada's first Apple
Authorized Training Centre). He also studied the 2 Day Film School by Dov SS Simens. He then
registered Alpha Galore Films under his existing company Alpha Galore Inc.
Jeremy Hood was born in Grenada, West Indies of African, Arawak and Carib Indian ancestry. For nearly twenty years, Jeremy
has developed a wide range of skills and expertise from working in commercials to music videos to short and feature films to
television and internet production. Between 1996 and 2001, as one of the owners of the award winning company RAJE
Filmhouse Inc., he helped to nurture and develop many successful Canadian and int’l artists. Jeremy has worked on awardwinning
series such as: Queer As Folk, Degrassi: The Next Generation, Instant Star and da Kink In My Hair.


Ian Sun is the founder of TorontoRED.org, a user group for RED ONE camera owners. Ian is a filmmaker, editor and writer. He
has won the Canadian Reggae Music Award for best video and has been nominated for a Juno. Ian is the CEO of the
production and post-production facility Anansi Moving Images Inc. that delivers end-to-end RED Projects.

Director of Cinematography

Ricardo Diaz has spent the last fourteen years as a cinematographer with credits ranging from feature films and shorts, reality
television, documentaries and commercials. He was the director of cinematography for Steve DiMarco’s Hurt, Night Writer,
Lolo’s Child, Messiah of Montreal, Instant Dread, and the short films Blue Hair, Vicious Cycles, The Red Window and El niƱo


Omoni Oboli (Joyce Unanga)
Sam Sarpong (Paul Unanga)
Terri Oliver (Susan Backley)
Santiago Lopera (Joey)
Mark Cassius (John Rogdougougan)
Colin Paradine (Tim)
Michael Scratch (ICE Agent Castello)
Steve Rankine (Landlord)
Rachael Ancheril (ICE Agent Labinsky)
Barbara de la Fuente (Maria Rosario)
Tara Browne (Female factory worker # 1)
Gary Fischer (Male immigration officer)
Sofia Gian (Clinic receptionist)
Michelle Lecky (Boarding stewardess # 1)
Chris Patterson (ICE agent Rutherford)
Cyrus Faird (Jose Rosario)
Adam Belanger (Mover #1)
Benoit Mamba (Immigration escort #2)
Jenna Harris (Nurse #2)
Dan Bowers (ICE agent #1)
Bunmi Jubril (Suya waiter)
Audra Gray (Nurse # 3)
Godson Okojie (Black ICE agent #1)
Julia Vivienne Matthews (Female airport security guard #2)
Lacey Benedetti (Boarding stewardess # 2)
Carl Bauer (Immigration escort # 1)
Randy Murton (Male airport security guard)
Malachi Richards (Mailman)
Warrington Preston McCall (Uche)
Ashok Dhiman (Male factory worker #3)
Franz Gopaulsing (Mover #1)
Joshua Teixeira (Chris)
Peter Botteas (Male factory worker #2)
Ben Bessong (Black ICE agent #2)
Alaba Jubril (Suya Waitres)
Writer/Director/Producer: Lonzo Nzekwe
Co-producers: Jeremy Hood
Ian Sun
Assoc. Producer: Malachi Richards
Consulting Producer: Chukwuka Nzekwe
Director of Photography: Ricardo Diaz, C.S.C.
Production Manager: Jeremy Hood
First A/D: Marc Milliard
First A/D: Evan Stasyshyn
Second A/D: Jon Marck
Gaffer: Simon Hughes
Stills Photography: Kelly Kruschel
Key Grip: Brent Marrale
First Assist. Camera: Doug Nelson
Second Assist. Camera: Blair Phillips
SteadyCam Operator: Kevin Garcia
SteadyCam Assistant: Peter Valkov
Editors: Matthew Johnson
Lonzo Nzekwe
Sound Mixer: Jeffery Magat
Sound Design & Mix: Sean Koch
Adrian Jones
Sean Baillie
Nick Dudar
Assist. Engineer: Nick Dudar
5.1 Mix: Eric Kofler
Boom Operator: Art Pisanski
Original Music: Sean Baillie
Production Design: Johnny Nghiem
Art Director: Adam Ritz
Special Effects: Geoff Hill
Weapons Wrangler: Derek Graham
Costume Design: Julianna Clarke
Key Make-up & Hair: Roxanne DeNobrega
Make-up Assistant: Kimberly Skory
Post-production coordinator: Ian Sun
Script Supervisor: Celine Bell
Production Coordinator: Tina Vacalopoulos
P/As: Adam Belanger
Michael Cudmore
Casting: Ron Leach, CBC
Casting Nigeria: Chima Okorie
Extras casting: Krista Fraser
Consultant: Chinedu Amadi
Colourist: Roger Singh
Online Editor: Andrew Moniz
Online Supervisor: Matvei Zhivov
Publicity: Fordham PR, Toronto
Score, sound mixing and sound design recorded at Glasgow Sound, Toronto.
Special thanks to: Chinedu Amadi, Akeem Anifowoshe, Tish Hennessey, Latanya Langford, Emmanuel Salako, Art
Upholstery, MJ's BBQ, Suya, Sara Giguere and Steve King, without whose generous support and assistance Anchor Baby
would not have been completed.

•Production pictures

•Anchor Baby official movie Trailer 

• For Anchor Baby: Behind the Scenes interviews

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