…As Bayelsa govt donates N150 m towards film village
By Benjamin Njoku
Late veteran actor, Justus Esiri who was buried two weeks ago in his home town in Abraka, Delta State, has been adjudged the best actor in Africa.
Esiri won the Best actor in a Lead role award at this year’s edition of the Africa Movie Academy Awards,AMAA, which held over the weekend in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State capital.
While the legendary actor picked the coveted award for his role in the movie, “Assasins Practice” South African actress, Florence Masbe won the Best Actress award for her role in “Elelwani”.
Esiri beat the likes of Bimbo Manuel, OC Ukeje, Lindani NKosi, Hlomla Dandala , Femi Jacobs and Amurin Wumnembom to clinch the prize.
The award was received on his behalf by the President of the Actors Guild of Nigeria,AGN, Miss Ibinabo FIberesima who was emotional while receiving the award.
Other winners at the glamorous award ceremony which ran into the early hours of Sunday were, Niji Akanni who won the Best Director, Gabriel Afolayan(Best actor in a supporting role), Blindah Effah who jointly won the Best promising actor with Kenyan actor, Joseph Wairium.
Nigeria however , won a total of 14 awards including the Best African film award out of 27 awards given out at this year’s AMAA, to set a new record for the continent.The country was followed by South Africa which won three awards in all.
According to the jury headed by June Givanni , an international film curator who ran the African Caribbean film unit , “the quality of entries received this year improved tremendously.”
In addition, AMAA this year honored Chief Eddie Ugboma (OON), Sir Osifadinma Okeke Oguno, Ayuko Babu, Pete Edochie and Tunde Kelani with Life Time Achievement Awards.
The award body also gave Special Recognition to ace producer, Emem Isong, veteran actors, Kanayo O. Kanayo, Keneth Okonkwo, and the Film and Video Producers and Marketers Association of Nigeria (FVPMAN), describing them as pillars of Nollywood.
Speaking at the event which had an attendance big players in the film industry, government officials, diplomats, journalists among others, President Goodluck Jonathan, represented by the Minister of Culture and Tourism, Edem Duke reiterated federal government’s earlier promise of N3 billion in support of the movie industry. Duke, announced that the framework for the project will be completed in a few weeks and that the various guild heads in Nollywood will be part of a committee that will decide the modalities for disbursement of the grant.
In his opening remarks, governor of Bayelsa State, Mr. Seriake Dickson said his government is determined to position Bayelsa State as an investment destination in Nigeria. He announced the establishment of Bayelsa Film Trust Fund, with an initial donation of N150 million. He also disclosed that henceforth, hosting of AMAA in the State will be funded by the private sector. He said the trust fund is to encourage the youth of Bayelsa to develop their creativity.
Personalities at the event include; Hollywood actor, Mario Van Pebbles, Delta State Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Mr. Richard Mofe Damijo, President of Republic of Malawi, Mrs. Joyce Banda, represented by her daughters, musicians and several Nollywood stars.