By Benjamin Njoku
Lilongwe, the capital of Malawi came alive last Friday, as Nollywood stars leading other film makers from different parts of the continent stormed the country for the Africa Movie Academy Award (AMAA) Nomination Party 2013.
Held at the Bingu wa Mutharika International Conference Centre, the glamorous evening was graced by top government officials of Malawi led by the president, Joyce Banda and her husband Richard Banda.
Top Nollywood stars who represented Nigeria at the event were Kanayo O. Kanayo, Nse Ikpe-Etim, Victor Osuagwu, Chioma Chukwuka-Akpotha, OC Ukeje, Paul Obazele, Mmadu Chikwendu and Charles Novia. Others were Nobert Ajaegbu, chairman, Lagos State chapter of Video Producers and Marketers Association of Nigeria (FVPMAN), Emma Isikaku among others. Lydia Forson came from Ghana.
While the event lasted, Malawian fans were all over Nollywood stars, hugging and posing for shots with them at random. They were also eager to meet actors like Mr. Ibu, Aki and Pawpaw. Unfortunately, in their absence, Mr Biodun Kupoluyi, publisher of E24/7 Magazine filled the vacuum as they mistook him for Mr. Ibu.
In her address, Malawi Minister of Culture And Tourism, Rachel Mazombwe thanked AMAA for choosing Malawi to host this year’s nomination party. She acknowledged with gratitude, the support by the Film Association of Malawi and members the ministry in making the event a successful one.
“Our artistes are undergoing training in different areas of movie making. Very soon, Africans and the world at large would know the Malawian culture through films. This is coming from a background that most Malawians know about Nigerian culture through movies. That is what we hope for as a ministry responsible for culture that one day many people in the world should know about Malawian culture through Malawian movies.”
According to Mazombwe, staging the event in Malawi has created an opportunity for visitors to see the beauty of the country and also provide a platform for the country to market its potentials.
“This award ceremony will be viewed by over 50million viewers around the world. This is a rare opportunity to sell the country as both a tourism and film destination. This is an opportune time for Malawi, the warm heart of Africa, to host such grand events when government has declared tourism a priority area. We, as a nation, need more of these events to market our beautiful land.”
CEO of AMAA, Peace Anyiam Osigwe described Malawi as a country with so much potential, urging the government to see a way of tapping from the opportunities provided by AMAA, with the training of 200 youths in different aspects of filmmaking.
Osigwe also called on corporate organisation to come to the aid of the Malawian film industry and other African countries by supporting their projects.
In her keynote address, Malawian President, Joyce Banda expressed her joy over the decision to stage the Nomination Party in her country, describing it as an opportunity to grow the local film industry.
According to Banda, development of the creative art industry is one of the major components of the Youth Job Creation Initiative by her government. “We have learnt from Hollywood and Nollywood the potential that the film industry has in creating employment particularly for the youth.
I am told the Nollywood is the second highest employer from government…it is for this very fact that my government, through the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, is working hard to promote the arts and culture industry…and faciltating many more arts and culture festivals including films,” said President Banda who was accompanied to the event by her husband, her Vice President and all the cabinet members.
Meanwhile, announcing the nominees the jury said, they received 671 entries this year. “Various African filmmakers have refined their works and have tried to produce exceptional movies that could compete on the biggest movie platforms in the world,” said AMAA jury.