By Benjamin Njoku
The Garden city of Port Harcourt is bubbling with life at the moment. It’s AMAA night, and all roads will lead to the Obi Wali International Conference Centre, Port Harcourt, venue of the prestigious awards night, which is designed to celebrate the best of the best in African film sector.
With movie stars and film makers from over 40 countries of the continent and beyond already looking forward to the event, you don’t expect anything less than the best tonight. If you are residing in the oil-rich city and act early enough, it’s possible for you to be on the red carpet, watching the celebrity arrivals and catching a glimpse of the razzmatazz that is associated with the event; the head turns, the glamour, the whispers and the fashion show among side attractions. The red carpet event is expected to kick off around 7 pm, as the celebrities will take turns to display their latest wardrobe acquisition.
Who wins what tonight?
The highpoint of the event, however, will be the presentation of awards to the deserving winners. And rising actress, Adesua Etomi, is one of the nominees to watch out for tonight. After she won the 2016 AMVCA Best Actress for her role as Muna in the movie, “Falling”, she’s up for another grab.
The beautiful actress was nominated for the Best Actress award again for her role in the same movie. She was pitched against Thishiwe Ziqubu also nominated for her role in “Tell me Sweet Something”, Maureen Okpoko (Missing God), Ijeoma Grace Agu (Jimi Bendel/ Taxi Driver), Bontte Modiselle (Hear Me Move), Fulu Mugovhani (Ayanda), Maimouna N’Daiye (Eye of the Storm),Iretiola Doyle, Dakore Egbuson, Nse Ikpe Etim, Omoni Oboli (Fifty) and Nomzamo Mbatha who was nominated for her role in “Tell me Sweet Something.” Adesua who’s only two years old in Nollywood, is already making waves in the industry. But can she take the shine away from the likes of Iretiola Doyle, Dakore Egbuson, Nse Ikpe Etim and Omoni Oboli tonight? But for whatever reason, the fair-complexioned actress has proven to everyone that she’s on top of her game, and the possibility of her clinching the coveted prize tonight is not in contention.
She broke record early this year when she beat the likes of Genevieve Nnaji, Nse Ikpe-Etim, Belinda Effah, Fulu Mugovhani and Mary Lazarus to clinch the AMVCA Best Actress award. All eyes will definitely be on her tonight as she makes history again.
Like Adesua, pretty Linda Ejiofor is another actress to watch out for tonight. Soft-spoken and daring, Linda has carved a niche for herself as a forward-looking actress. If she wins the award for Best Actress in a supporting role, having been nominated for her role in “Out of Luck” tonight, many will not be surprised because she has worked so hard to stay on top of her game. The same goes to Ijeoma Grace Agu, who has made a name for herself after she debuted her one-woman-show, where she played eight different female characters. She was nominated for her role in “Jimi Bendel/ Taxi Driver,” which many have adjudged as excellent. But their counterparts from South Africa and others countries stronger contenders for the award.
On the Best Actor category, many are tipping OC Ukeje to clinch the prize for his role in South African film, ‘Ayanda.’ He played a leading role in the film, which was premiered last year, at the LA Film Festival, where it won the Special Jury Prize in the World Fiction Competition. OC Ukeje and Daniel K Daniel will be slugging it out alongside their contemporaries from other parts of Africa. The Best Actor category is one of the major awards that everyone will be looking forward to seeing the winner.
Which movie will be adjudged the best in Africa?
Biyi Bandele-directed “FIFTY” emerged the film from Nigeria with six nominations including Achievement in Cinematography, Best Director, Best Actress in a Leading Role, Best Nigerian Film and Achievement in Sound. The film, which grossed N400 million in four month cinema run in Nigeria, and explores the lives of four successful African Women in 21st century Lagos is being tipped for the Best film award. But South Africa’s “Äyanda”, starring Nigeria’s OC Ukeje, and which was screened at the just concluded the Cannes Film Market, from all indications remains a major contender for the award. Also, not to be ruled here is the possibility of such films as “The Cursed One”from Ghana and Burkina Faso’s “Eye of the Storm” clinching the prize.
Meanwhile, Stephanie Linus’ award winning advocacy film, “Dry” may not be a film to beat in this category, having once been adjudged the Best Overall Movie in Africa at this year’s Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards,AMVCA, which held in March. The film was tied with “A Soldier’s Story” with four nominations each. Dry was nominated in the categories for Best Young/Promising Actor, Best Nigerian Film, Best Film and Best Director and it’s expected that “Dry”will rewrite history tonight. Other Nigerian films expected to do the country proud include, “Out of Luck”, “Falling, Oshimiri”, “Stupid Movie”, “Beyond Blood” and “Missing God.”
The hosts of the show
All eyes will be on Nollywood golden boy, Mike Ezuruonye who hardly has functioned as a show host before now. But tonight, he will be joining forces with Ghanaian musician, John Germain and South Africa’s On-Air Personality, Kgopedi Lilokoe to deliver a memorable show. As a radio and television personality, John Germain will bring his wealth of experience to bear on the show, just as the South Africa’s charismatic entertainer, Kgopedi Lilokoe will not disappoint her fans.
Who headlines the show!
Feelers from the Garden city revealed that scores of music acts have expressed their willingness to thrill guests tonight. And look out for performances from the likes of P-Square, K-cee, Harry Song, Phyno and Tecno are already on the line up of artistes who would be taking the centre stage at this year’s awards night. Recall that at the city of Port Elizabeth, South Africa, where the awards ceremony held last year, “Limpopo” crooner and South African platinum-selling singer, Miss Lira, headlined the show, which also saw popular Asanda Asa Mqiki sharing the stage with them.