11 April 2009

Zimbabwe: Dangarembga in the Dark

NOVELIST and film producer Tsitsi Dangarembga was in the dark as to how her short film, The Sharing Day, fared against other African productions at the prestigious African Movie Academy Awards (AMAA) held in Nigeria, Bayelsa State last week.

Dangarembga, who did not attend the event, was frantically trying to establish if she had picked an award over a week after the AMAA were held.

Dangarembga said: "I am in the dark. There is nothing on their official website. It's just amazing how it is difficult to get simple information. My husband has been trying as well to search for a hint but we have given up. "

She added that she had only been notified that she had been nominated five days prior to 4 April, the day the AMAA were held.

"I guess that is how bad it was but the good thing is that this event was held and it's a plus for African film," she said.

An e-mail by Standardplus to Olaf Koschke of Nyerai Films who had distributed the initial information to the media that The Sharing Day was nominated for the AMAA had not been replied by time of going to the press.

However, websites indicated that films from Kenya, South Africa and Uganda knocked out others produced by Nigerians who were the favourites to walk away with most awards.

According to Nigerian newspaper, Punch international stars like Danny Glover and Oscar award-winning Forest Whitaker, and everyone else watched as the non-Nigerian entries stole the hearts of the 10-man international AMAA jury, which had insisted on quality stories and attention to technical details and aesthetics as part of the criteria that define a winning film.

Godwin Mawuru, the executive producer of Studio 263 said although he was also anxiously waiting to know if Dangarembga's short film did well, he was satisfied of the quality of productions in the country.

"What those awards show from the look of it is that Nollywood (Nigerian film industry) needs to improve. I heard prior to AMAA people saying Nigeria was going to scoop all the awards, but what the outcome has shown is that there is no substitute to quality in this industry. Kenya showed that," Mawuru said.

Most film producers and actors from Nigeria are said to have remained on their seats, clapping most of the time, while visiting candidates endlessly climbed the stage as they collected awards.

In particularly, the producer of From a Whisper, a Kenyan swept five choice prizes. It won the Best Director, Best Picture, AMAA Achievement in Editing and Best Original in Soundtrack.

For Dangarembga, who looks likely to not have bagged the award in which she contested with Cameroon and Kenya, this is clearly not the end of the road after she received good news.

Another film that she wrote and directed last year, I Want A Wedding Dress for which studio 263 award winning actor, Charles Kapfupi plays the of role of a conning 'Sugar Daddy', has now been selected to the world's biggest Public television conference INPUT 09.

The event will be held in May in Warsaw, Poland. Only three African productions were selected for this meeting of TV-producers from around the globe.

Dangarembga's film will be screened in the category Good Story Telling.

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