By BENJAMIN NJOKU
Tension, anxiety and expectations are thick in the air as African film makers and stars gather in the capital city of Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, Sunday, March 27, to decide the country that rules the screens in the continent.
Unlike the previous edition, this year’s AMAA has three top contenders; Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya. Opinions vary in terms of which country would emerge top at the end of Sunday’s night of awards.
Some industry watchers has predicted the obvious, a repeat of the outcome of the previous year’s edition, where Nigeria imposed its supremacy on other African countries by carting away a lot of the awards that were given out on that year. Other observers also expressed reservation, doubting the possibility of Nigeria carrying the day again.
Meanwhile, judging from the nomination list released by AMAA early this month, Nigeria, against all odds consolidated her position in Africa with fifty nominations. Kenya bagged nine nominations emerging, alongside South Africa, as the film competitors posing a threat to Nigerian dominance.
Unfortunately, Ghana which happened to be a major contender against Nigeria during last year’s edition lagged behind this year. Though one of the country’s films, “Sinking Sound” got ten nominations to save Ghana from going down the drain. But the chances of the country emerging top this year is doubtful. Malawi equally fell by the way side as the country got fewer nomination.
The Chief Executive Officer of the award body, Ms. Peace Anyiam-Osigwe at a media briefing in Lagos, acknowledged the fact that South Africa and Kenya posed a serious threat to Nigeria’s consistent lead in the competition.
According to her, while “Viva River”, a film from Congo had the highest single nominations, South Africa has four films that are very strong that made the nominations too.
“The four South African films in competition include “Hope Ville” with nine nominations, “Izulu Lami,” seven nominations, “Shirley Adams”, 5 nominations and “A Small Town Called Descent” with 6 nominations. Combined together, South Africa had the highest nominations by a country with a total of 27 nominations.
Ghana’s “Sinking Sound” with ten nominations, many observers believe holds a lot of promises for the country which recorded unimpressive outing this year.
Also, Kenya’s ‘Soul Boy” with six nominations is equally a strong contender in this year’s AMAA, while Nigeria has four films that are also prominent on the nomination list with Tunde Kelani’s Maami, Inale, a film directed by Jeta Amata, Niyi Akanji’s Aramotu, and Mahmood Alli-Balogun’s Tango with Me. In by country nominations, Nigeria trails South Africa with 23 total nominations.
However, aside the emergence of the three top contenders, some important awards that would make the difference in this year’s AMAA because of the quality of the nominees include the Best Actor and Actress in a leading role; Best Director, Best Cinematography and Best achievement in Visual award.
In the Best Actress category, Nigeria’s Idiat Shobande who played Aramotu in Niyi Akanji’s “Aramotu”, Omoni Oboli and Genevive Nnaji would have their counterparts from other countries like Manie Malone, Denise Newman and Amake Abebrese to beat. Observers believe that Genevieve who was nominated for her role in Mahmood Alli-Balogun’s “Tango with Me” is long overdue to cliche the covetous prize.
Also, Omoni Oboli’s role in the award winning “Änchor Baby” stands her out amongst her rivals. But it is believed that Amake Abebrese remain a strong force to reckon with. Her role in the international block-bluster, ‘Sinking Sound” raised the stake for her. Manie Malone is equally a no pushover as well as Denise Newman.
Indeed, unlike last year, where two Ghanaian actresses, Jackie Appiah, Lydia Forson defeated actress Bimbo Akintola and Stephanie Okereke as their major contenders to cliche the prize for their roles in “Nnenda” and “Freedom in Chain’, this year’s edition is expected to produce a single winner.
Looking at the top contenders for the Best Actor in a leading role, one has this conviction that every nominee in this category is a potential winner. From Themba Ndaba( Hopeville), Patsha Bay(Viva Riva) to Jimmy Jean-Louis(Sinking Sands), Ekon Blankson(Checkmate) and Antar Laniyan (Yemoja), it is a rare display of talent, professionalism and intellect.
While the awards night holds on Sunday, the good thing about this year’s AMAA lies on the fact that the visiting guests will be made to experience the host state in a new way as series of events have been lined up for a whole week. AMAA this year, as disclosed by the organisers will not be a day’s event.
Guests will be given the opportunity to network, share experiences and even make co-production deals with other film makers. Visitors also will explore the sights and sound of Bayelsa and feel the people and culture of the state.