16 April 2010

Africa: Nollywood Reclaims Glory At AMAA

The movie industry in Nigeria, better known as Nollywood, suffered a devastating blow at last year's annual African Movie Academy Awards (AMAA), a blow critics were quick to point out the industry might not recover from over some years.

Against what movie people said about the industry last year after the AMAA 2009, Nollywood bounced back to reclaim its place in the scheme of things, especially as regards movie productions.

In a glamorous and well-attended ceremony held on Saturday, April 10 in Yenagoa, the capital of oil-rich Bayelsa State, a total of 53 countries slugged it out in the 24 available categories, thus making the recently held sixth edition, a tension-soaked event. Over time, AMAA has come to be regarded as the biggest award and reward system for film stars and practitioners on the African continent. Some have even termed it the Oscars of Africa.

Amazingly, some Nigerian filmmakers and stars went home with most of the biggest and most prized awards in different major categories.

Nigerian-born filmmaker Kunle Afolayan did his motherland proud when his latest flick, The Figurine, carted home five awards, the highest for the night. Of the 10 nominations the movie received, The Figurine went home with five. The categories include The Heart of Africa Award for Best Film from Nigeria, Best Visual Effect, Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role, which went to star actor, Ramsey Nouah, Best Cinematography and finally, the keenly contested award for the biggest category of the awards, Best Picture.

Interestingly, another movie that made Nollywood proud at the awards night, which was beautifully anchored by the duo of Basorge Tariah Jnr. and Rita Dominic with support from a Kenyan colleague, was The Child. The Amstel Malta powered movie grabbed two awards in the categories of best editing and make-up.

Other movies that did Nigeria proud at the awards ceremony include Vivian Ejike's Silent Scandal, which received a joint award in the Most Promising Actress category with Imani, a Ugandan flick, Femi Odugbemi's work, Bariga Boys (Best Documentary), as well as Fulani from Ifeanyi Onyeabor (Art Direction Categories). Chelsea Eze, the joint winner in the Most Promising Actress category was however absent at the ceremony to receive her award.

From outside the shores of this country, The Tenant, a heart-wrenching movie painstakingly shot by Nigerian filmmakers living in Canada, won in the Best Screenplay Category, while Soul Diaspora, another good film shot by a group of Nigerians residing in the US, smiled home with a trophy in the best film by an African filmmaker in Diaspora category.

Gollywood, the fast evolving movie industry for neighbouring Ghana, was not left out in the festival of awards in the 2010 edition of AMAA as three of their quality films collectively carted home a total of seven awards, in various categories. While, The Perfect Picture clinched awards in the categories of Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor and Best Director, another Ghanaian flick, I Sing of a Well, was victorious in the categories of Best Sound, Costume and Special Jury Prize. The Ghanaians rounded off the memorable night with another stripe on their lapel when they went home with the Best Original Soundtrack category, courtesy of the movie, A Sting in a Tale.

Surprisingly, of the 26 shortlisted feature films that made it to the grand finale, the Kenyans, who were the stars of last year's awards, only managed to grab two trophies in the award ceremonies. Togetherness Supreme, Kenya's only movie that made it to the finals, won awards in both the categories of Best Child and Most Promising Actor categories. Other countries like Malawi, Egypt and South Africa, also got an award each in the categories of Best Supporting Role, Animation and Short Film in that order.

The evening of the awards presentations was spiced with musical performances from some notable entertainment acts like Omawunmi, J Martins, the Bayelsa Cultural Troupe alongside some foreign acts. The night climaxed with the coming on stage of the two notable Hollywood stars specially invited by the organisers, Glynn Turman and CCH Pounder. While on stage, both black U.S. stars, paid glowing tributes to AMAA, for bringing them home to motherland, adding that it was good to be home and congregating with their black brothers and sisters.

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