AMAA 2018… What went down in Kigali
Kigali, the beautiful capital city of Rwanda was the centre of attraction recently, as celebrities, stakeholders in the African motion picture industry and beyond converged at the Intare Conference Arena for the 14th edition of the Africa Movie Academy Award (AMAA). Though the traditional AMAA Nomination Party had been hosted in different African countries, including Kenya, South Africa, Malawi, Gambia and others, this is the second time the main award ceremony will be hosted outside Nigeria, the home of AMAA.
To set the tone for the continental showpiece, the African Film Academy (AFA), curators of the pan-African awards, in partnership with the International Film School of Cuba, hosted a training workshop for aspiring filmmakers in Kigali. There was also an Africa Cinema Business Roundtable, which held as a sideline event with focus on content distribution with the theme, Unblocking Distributions: The Key to the Success of African Cinema.
The International Film and Television School Cuba (EICTV), Cuba’s world renowned International Film and Television School (EICTV), was founded by a group of intellectuals, led by Columbian writer Gabriel García Márquez, Argentinian poet Fernando Birri and Cuban filmmaker Julio García Espinosa, leading figures in Latin American debates about revolutionary and politically committed art. Its initial aim was to support the development of national audio-visual industries in countries that lacked the infrastructure or resources to train their own professionals.
At the end of the training in Kigali, representatives from the film school presented certificates to the students that completed the workshop and also took part in the round table discussions sharing their knowledge on how to train filmmakers within an industry that lacks infrastructure.
As part of its core mission, the AFA uses the medium of filmmaking as a tool for community development to train aspiring artists in all aspects of filmmaking: acting, writing, directing and producing motion pictures all across Africa. Indeed, Rwanda hugely benefited from the training session, which is expected to open the floodgate of filmmaking in the country, like it happened in countries like Malawi.
Done with the intellectual engagements, it was time for the glitz and glamour. Though the event started a little behind schedule, the red carpet was great, with notable actors and celebrities in attendance. Nollywood was represented by the likes of Paul Obazele, Rita Domnic, Bob-Manuel Udokwu, Chinedu Ikedieze, Nse Ikpe Etim, Chinwe Owoh, Ken Erics, Rachael Okonkwo, Gideon Okeke, Kunle Afolayan, Franck Donga, Emeka Rollas, Fred Amata, Charles Novia, Blessing Egbe, Onyeka Nwelue, Aneke Twins, alongside their counterparts from Ghana, Cuba, South Africa, Malawi, Kenya, Rwanda and others.
While guests waited for action to commence on stage, the live band kept the hall busy with popular tunes from both within and outside Rwanda. From the way they performed, one could easily tell that the band has been together for a long period. Except for the instrumentalists, almost every other member of the band took at least one song.
Hosted by Nse Ikpe Etim and Rwanda’s Arthur, the stage eventually came alive with the traditional Rwandan Cultural Troupe that showcased the country’s rich heritage in both dance and costume. Aside from the sound of their heavy drums that reverberated in the hall, the stomping of feet by the performer provided a soothing rhythmic sound that complemented the beats. Indeed, it was a celebration of rich African culture.
Presenting the result to AMAA founder Peace Anyiam-Osigwe, jury head Dorothee Wenner, a filmmaker and curator based in Berlin, Germany, said, “To look at Rwanda as a hosting country gives us, the jury, the big pleasure of drawing an analogy: this geographically small country with a very special and extremely difficult history has – in recent years – attracted a lot of positive attention worldwide. I’m especially referring here to Ruanda’s pioneering politics in the field of ecology. Rwanda is proving to the world: yes: there are alternative ways to live on this planet besides wasting and destroying our environment.”
Wenner, who work as the delegate to the Berlin International Film Festival for the cinemas from Subsahara Africa, said the jury gives the awards with the ambition to highlight cinematographic excellence accordingly: to bold and outstanding works in all fields of filmmaking.
“A significant observation we made while engaging with the 202 nominated entries: women – in front of and behind the camera – were more present than ever before. A development we welcome with enthusiasm and admiration for female powers in cinema. The jury wishes to thank the hosting country for the truly inspiring atmosphere during the final deliberations,” she said.
In her remarks, the President and CEO of AMAA Peace Anyiam-Osigwe commended the people and government of Rwanda for hosting the award ceremony, adding that the visa on arrival policy made things easier in the area of traveling logistics.
“Every single filmmaker from any part of the world could get their visa on arrival in Rwanda. For us, that made our job so simple. You don’t understand how difficult it is when you are tying to do film within the continent; sometime, it takes you up to two months just to get a visa. So, I thank President Paul Kagame for this.”
While urging filmmakers to continue telling African stories through their work, she noted, “Africa has her own story, but we have to begin to tell the stories that allows the world to see the direction Africa wants to go.”
A South African film, Winnie, won the first award of the night for Best Documentary, hence setting the pace for South Africa as the biggest winner of 2018. In the same move, South African movie Five Fingers For Marseille by Michael Matthews became the biggest of the night with five awards. The movie won the awards for categories that include Ousmane Sembene AMAA 2018 Award for Best Film in an African Language; AMAA 2018 Award for Achievement in Production Design; AMAA 2018 Award for the Best First Feature Film by a Director; AMAA 2018 Award for Achievement in Cinematography and AMAA 2018 Award for Best Film.
Nigeria registered her presence with Richard Mofe Damijo winning Best actor in a lead role, while Dakore Egbuson emerged Best actress in a lead role. Unfortunately, bother were absent.
Other winners from Nigeria include Best actor in Supporting Role: Gideon Okeke (Cross Roads), Best Actress in Supporting Role: Joke Silva (Potato Potahto), Best director: Frank Rajah Arase (In my country and others.The ceremony ended with performance by Paul aka Rudeboy, who treated guests to the best of P-Square’s hits that got guests dancing all through.
Established in 2005, AMAA aims at facilitating the development and relevance of African film and cinema by providing a reward and recognition platform for filmmakers on the continent. The Awards is the most prestigious award in Africa, showcasing and rewarding great talents in the film industry. It has since become the most – hungered after – event in African movie world.