Nigerian movie awards gain importance in entire Africa

April 2009 -

The Africa Movie Academy Awards (AMAA) were founded in 2005 to recognise and reward Nigerian films. Slowly it is becoming a continental affair with plans to establish a continental film fund to keep African cinema alive.

The fifth edition of the Awards took place on April 4, 2009. Competition for the Best Picture was stiff with Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, Egypt and Nigeria seeking to outdo one another. Kenyan Wanuri Kahiu's From a whisper had 13 nominations out of the 24 categories that were awarded. He made away with Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Original Soundtrack, and Achievement in Editing statuettes. Overall, Kenya took home six awards, including that of Best Short Documentary that was won by Judy Kibinge's Coming of age. AMAA also confers Lifetime Achievement Award every year. In 2009, the recipients were Zeb Ejiro of Nigeria and Burkinabe film director and trainer and former secretary-general of FEPACI, Gaston Kabore.

If anything, AMAA 2009 proved that 'Nollywood' filmmakers must change the way they work. The only Nigerian filmmaker who held his own against other Africans was Tunde Kelani who, strictly speaking, is not a Nollywood filmmaker. He is formally trained in filmmaking and makes 'creative' rather than 'commercial' films.

The founder and chief executive officer of AMAA, Peace Anyiam-Osigwe, says she created AMAA as a "platform on which Africans could not only speak with one voice but also recognise, reward and celebrate African filmmaking. It is now the prima facie awards body for African filmmakers. The European Film Academy has embraced AMAA while the British Film Institute wants to partner with us in order to get films from Africa which will be recognised at their various festivals." According to Anyiam-Osigwe AMAA should move across Africa in order to balance the equation of other African countries. Transport and accommodation remain the biggest problems facing AMAA, that is usually held in the oil-rich but politically volatile Niger Delta state of Bayelsa.