By Benjamin NJOKU
Nigeria, last Saturday night, in the oil rich Bayelsa State, reclaimed her lost glory as the â€œLion Heart of Film Making in Africaâ€ when the country carted away 13 out of the 24 main prizes at this yearâ€™s Africa Movie Academy Awards.
Nigeriaâ€™s victory was led by actor-cum-director, Kunle Afolayan. He, alone, won five trophies, including Heart of Africa Award for Best Film from Nigeria, Best Picture, Achievement in Cinematography, Achievement in Visual Effect, and Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role, which was won by Ramsey Nouah to put the nation in the lead.
Unfortunately, Afolayan,Â whose â€œThe Figurineâ€filmÂ received nine nominations, did not win the coveted Best Director award, as he lost the same to his Ghanaian counterpart, Shirley Frimong-Manso.
Besides Afolayanâ€™s victory, other big winners from Nigeria were Femi Odugbemi whose â€œBariga Boysâ€filmÂ won Best Documentary award,Â â€œThe Childâ€ directed by Izu Chukwu won two awards: AMAA Achievement in Editing and AMA Achievement in Make-Up.â€
Others were â€œThe Tenantâ€ which won the Best Screen play, â€œSoul Diasporaâ€ by Odera Ozoka won the Best Film by African film maker in Diaspora and AMAA Achievement in Art Direction which was won by â€œFulani.â€ Nigeriaâ€™s Chelsea Eze of â€œSilent Scandalâ€ and Rahema Nanfuka of Ugandan â€œImaniâ€ jointly won the Most Promising Actress of the Year.
Judging from the outcome of this yearâ€™s AMAA, it was obvious that Nigerian film makers, following the defeat they suffered in the hands of Kenya, South Africa, and Ugandan counterparts during last yearâ€™s edition, was out this year to stamp its authority on the African film making landscape.
Afoloyan, in one of his acceptance speeches, confirmed this claim when he said,Â â€œNigeria is set to harvest even more awards in future. We have many stories in the pipeline.â€
Ahead of the award night, the feeling was that the battle would be between Nollywood andÂ Ghallywood of Ghana, which many perceived to be an emerging force in African film making sector.
But Ghana was far away from Nigeria, carting away only seven awards in less fancied categories, except in Best Performance won by an actress in a leading role. It was jointly won by pretty, Jackie Appiah, Lydia Forson and Naa Ashorkor Mensah_Doku for their roles in Shirley Frimpong Mansoâ€™s â€˜Perfect Pictureâ€™.
The three competed with Nigeriaâ€™s Stephanie Okereke (Nnenda), Akofa Edjeani Asiedu (I sing of a well), Flora Suya (Season of a life) and Bimbo Akintola (Freedom in Chains).
Also, this year ushered Malawi on screen with lots of fanfare. Though, the country managed to win just one out of eight nominations, it was not lost on pundits that this Southern African nation has arrived to claim her share in the African film industry.
Malawian director Charles Shemu Joyahâ€™s â€œSeason of a Lifeâ€ was a strong contender for the Best Screenplay, Best Original Soundtrack, Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role, Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role and Best Director.
Sylvia Tapiwa Gwaza won the Performance Award by an Actress in a Supporting Role, wrestling it from strong Ghanaian and Nigerian competitors Doris Sakitey (A Sting in a Tale), Funlola Aoifeyebi_Raini (The Figurine) and Yvonne Nelson (Heart of Men).
Unlike last year, when Kenya won the major awards, leaving Nigeria with less important ones, the country lost the grip this year, winning only one award, (Most Promising Actor) while sharing, â€˜Best Performance by A Child Actorâ€ with Nigeriaâ€™s Tobe Oboli of â€˜The Figurine.â€
However, South Africa, which had only one nomination, went home with one award- Best Short Film, whereas Uganda shared Most Promising Actress award with Nigeriaâ€™s Chelsea Eze of Silent Scandal.
All the same, this yearâ€™s entries, despite the odds, according to the 8-man panel of judges, was an improvement on the previous entries received in the last six editions of the continental film festival.
The African Movie Academy Awards (AMAA) is held annually to honour distinguished actors and actresses, directors and writers in the African movie industry. This yearâ€™s event, held amidst blitz and glamour, in Yenogoa,Â pulled hordes of celebrities in and around the African continent. AMAA is comparable to Americaâ€™s Academy Awards in terms of its class, glamour and importance in African film making.
FullÂ list of AMAA 2010 Winners
*Â Â Â Best Documentary Film- Bariga Boys, Nigeria
* Â Â Â Best Short Film- The Abbys Boys, South Africa
*Â Â Â Best Animation- Honyanâ€™s Shoe, Egypt
*Â Â Â Best Film by an African in the Diaspora: Soul Diaspora, USA/Nigeria
*Â Â Â Best Film in an African Language: Imani, Uganda
*Â Â Â Heart of Africa Award for Best Film from Nigeria: Araromire/The Figurine
*Â Â Â AMAA Achievement in Sound: I sing of a well, Ghana
* Â Â Â AMAA Achievement in Editing: The Child, Nigeria
* Â Â Â AMAA Achievement in Art Direction: Fulani, Nigeria
*Â Â Â AMAA Achievement in Make Up: The Child, Nigeria
* Â Â Â AMAA Achievement in Costume:
I sing of a Well, Ghana
* Â Â Â AMAA Achievement in Visual Effect: Araromire/The Figurine, Nigeria
*Â Â Â Best Original Soundtrack: A sting in a Tale, Ghana
*Â Â Â Best Performance by a Child Actor: Teddy Onyango and Bill Olooâ€”Togetherness Supreme, Kenya
* Â Â Â Most Promising Actress: Chelsea Ezeâ€”Silent Scandal,Nigeria/Rahema Nanfukaâ€”Imani, Uganda
*Â Â Â Most Promising Actor: Wilson Mainaâ€”Togetherness Supreme, Kenya
* Â Â Â Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role: Adjatey Anangâ€”The Perfect Picture, Ghana
* Â Â Â Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role: Tapiwa Gwazaâ€”Seasons of a Life, Malawi
*Â Â Â Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role: Jackie Appiah, Lydia Farson, Naa Ashoku Mensa_Dokuâ€”The Perfect Picture, Ghana
* Â Â Â Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role: Ramsey Nouahâ€”The Figurine, Nigeria
* Â Â Â Best Screenplay: The Tenant, Nigeria
*Â Â Â AMAA Achievement in Cinematography: Araromire/The Figurine, Nigeria
* Â Â Â Best Picture: Araromire/The Figurine, Nigeria
*Â Â Â Best Director: Kunle Afolayanâ€”Araromire/The Figurine, Nigeria.