The most anticipated event celebrating film in Nigeria is happening this weekend. The Africa Magic Viewer’s Choice Award (AMVCA) is in its fifth year and winners will be handed out gold statuettes, come Saturday.
It was an interesting year for Nollywood in 2016. Some films enjoyed international acclaim at the Toronto Film Festival and have since enjoyed strong box office numbers as a result of added publicity due in part to the TIFF spotlight.
The AMVCA has stayed out of the usual Awards controversy. The most popular films get nominated- sometimes even unknown films with popular actors enjoy nominations, as long as the jury enjoys the submitted film enough to nominate it.
For the 2017 nominees, a few surprise films made the list, for example the critically lashed “A Trip to Jamaica” enjoyed several nominations to the surprise of many. This stirred a few controversies here and there, but the AMVCA’s are here to give more attention to already popular films and that is why it is called the Viewer’s Choice Awards, what is known gets nominated, the person that enjoys more votes gets the award; and Not only critically acclaimed films get nominated, they also award films that enjoy strong box office numbers and that is why “A Trip to Jamaica” made the cut. We don’t expect AY’s film to take any award because it is nominated with exceptional contenders, but fingers crossed, the AMVCA’s are always unpredictable, we might just be in for a shock.
There a few categories that we are excited for. The nominations this year prove that new faces are welcomed into the industry and old veterans will always have their place, it is not a competition, there is space for everyone with the right talent. This year a host of rising stars enjoyed a few nominations and also some of the great veterans like, Nkem Owoh, Ebele Okaro, Bimbo Akintola, Richard Mofe Damijo and Olu Jacobs are all on the list. There is a role for everyone to fill in and we are excited to see what happens on Saturday. Who will win, what inspiring acceptance speech will we hear, we are ready!
Some of the most interesting categories, we have eyes on are:
Best Supporting Actress in a Drama (Movie/TV Series)
Ebele Okaro Onyuike – Four One Love
Somkele Idhalama- 93 Days
Kehinde Bankole- 8 Bars and a Clef
Ivie Okujaiye- Something Wicked
Khanyi Mbau- Happiness is a Four Letter word
Namonde Mbusi- Vaya
Last year the most popular name on film blogs was, Somkhele Idhalama. She rolled into the industry with the right roles, from The Arbitration, to The Wedding Party and then 93 Days. Very few people heard of her before these films, she was impressive in “Gidi Up” but the ball kicked off in 2016. Her turn in 93 Days as Doctor Ada remains the most impressive of all, it has earned her a well-deserved nomination and she is the most tipped for the win. Her win should set her on a career high and probably earn her more leading roles like it did for Adesua Etomi who won last year for her turn in ”Falling”.
If there is an upset, then expect Khanyi Mbau to take home the award for “Happiness is a Four Letter word,” Happiness was a commercial and critical success. It had the right story and the right actors, some of them we already know from series such as “Jacobs Cross” and others were on a roll to get their names known beyond South Africa. The AMVCA spotlights mostly Nigerian films, but also films from other African countries and judging by the success of Happiness, Khanyi might just make Somkhele wait another year before winning that award.
Best Actor in a Drama
And the nominees are:
Ramsey Noah- 76
Sambasa Nzeribe- Slow Country
Gregory Ojefua- The Encounter
Olu Jacobs- Oloibiri
I think we can all agree on the winner in this category, the most raved performance of the year has to be Ramsey Noah as Captain Joseph Dewa in ”76.” Ramsey Noah knows how to pick his roles and that is what makes him highly impressive as an actor. He is calculative and that is why after ”The Figurine” he went after more enjoyable roles such as Emeka Nwosu in ”Confusion Nawa” and in ”76” he has the performance of a lifetime, which is enough to win him his first AMVCA.
Another contender to look out for is Gregory Ojefua, who is highly impressive as Ojukwu in “The Encounter.” It is Gregory’s most impressive performance, and though he does a great job, this award definitely belongs to Ramsey Noah. There is also Richard Mofe Damijo as Gunpowder AKA Boma in “Oloibiri,” Richard gives the right performance, just enough to get us interested in the whole story and for that he is also deserving of the award.
Best Movie West Africa
A Trip to Jamaica
Last year was truly an impressive year in the Nigerian cinemas, a lot of films were released and it is what makes the AMVCA’s something to look forward to. The best movie category is a tricky one. Last year, Genevieve Nnaji took it home for her love drama “Road to Yesterday” while Stephanie Linus won the Best Movie overall for her commendable effort in “Dry”. The winner for best movie West Africa does not determine the best movie overall but it can tell us what to expect. This year, we have a couple of reasons to root for almost all the nominees but if we have to pick, we would go with”76”.
The most important award for the night is, Best Director
Directors! Directors!! We always have very few words of appreciation for them but they control the industry. They give us what we want to see. Some actors are already getting their cards ready to pass to the directors they will come in contact with. They have to secure that future job and we can’t blame them.
What a win means for the directors in this category is, more investors. They don’t have to argue about why their next work needs sponsorship; the win will do the talking.
Nominees for this category are:
Adze Ugah- Mrs Right Guy
Steve Gukas- 93 Days
Curtis Graham- Oloibiri
Izu Ojukwu- 76
Robert O Peters- A Trip to Jamaica
Frank Rajah- Ghana Must Go
Will it be Izu Ojukwu for his enthralling and magnificently directed ”76”or Steve Gukas for his heart tugging drama, ”93 Days” or Curtis Graham for his highly educative and sustaining work in ”Oloibiri,” and don’t be surprised, ”Ghana Must Go” is also in the conversation for targeting humour and education. ”93 Days” is an impressive contender and so is “Oloibiri,” but Izu Ojukwu will take this one, if not for anything, for years of hard work and consistency.
Other Winners to expect
Another winner to expect will be Tope Oshin for “Ireti” in the best short film category. Another film that will enjoy wins will be “Oloibiri” which is the most political story of the year; it is highly educative and is a mix of great drama and an important documentary that has served its purpose. The writing is astounding and so is the art direction, we expect a win for the writer.
Expect a tug of war between Bimbo Akintola and Rita Dominic both are impressive in their roles in ”93 Days” and ”76” respectively. Bimbo should be up on stage giving an inspirational acceptance speech come Saturday. She is long overdue.
Also, Expect Yinka Edwards to smash some records. He is nominated twice for Best Cinematographer for his work in”93 Days” and ”76”, the question is, which will he win for. If you have seen”93 Days” then aside from its impressive story, the next thing that strikes you is the picture. Yinka has set a pace and many are trying to catch up. Yinka remains the most impressive cinematographer in the Nigerian film industry, he understands the business and you won’t find his name attached to a bad film. He works with excellent scripts and excellent directors and we cannot wait to see him add another AMVCA to his collection.
The award is happening this Saturday and we are excited to see what happens and then deliberate on what got left out.
About the Author
Rejoice Abutsa is a 22-year-old aspiring Filmmaker and a big dreamer. She’s also a ‘Theatre and film’ arts graduate from the University of Jos, Nigeria.