By Maria Langat
On March 26th, the African Movie Academy Awards will take place in Bayelsa State, Nigeria. This year, the AMAA will be holding its 7th awards presented to filmmakers, actors and creatives from the continent and the diaspora. Here is a brief rundown of some of this year’s nominees.
Part One: The Films
From the nomination list released last week by the AMAA, a total of fifty eight films are up for the awards. I’ll start with an overview of the movies that are up for the Best Film Award, which also happen to be some of the movies with the most nominations.
Viva Riva is billed as the first major film to come out of the Democratic Republic of Congo. It’s up for an impressive 13 awards including Best Film, Director, Lead and Supporting Actor/Actress and a slew of others. Viva Riva is written and directed by Djo Tunda wa Munga and is a stylish gangster/action flick, complete with seedy nightclubs and sinister crime lords. The film’s protagonist, Riva, is a sleek operator out to make a quick buck with a fuel scam in Kinshasa. I couldn’t find a trailer for it, but here is one review for the film.
Sinking Sands (Ghana) had a not-too-shabby ten nominations, including Best Film, Director, Lead Actor/Actress and Screenplay. It is directed by Leila Djansi and tells the story of Pabi and Jimah who are happily married and living a peaceful life when an accident turns their relationship abusive. A trailer is here and a review here.
A Small Town Called Descent (up for six awards) is the stylish debut feature from talented South African director Jahmil X.T. Qubeka. The film follows three Scorpion agents in their investigation of xenophobic attacks that took place in a small town. A darkly humorous look at South Africa’s political dynamics, the film features powerful performances from the all-star cast of Vusi Kunene, Paul Buckby, Fana Mokoena and Isidingo’s Hlubi Mboya. The trailer is here.
Aramotu is the visually beautiful, mythical tale of a female trader in 1909 Yorubaland. Aramotu, played by Idiat Shobande, is on a crusade to realize her visionary ideals on women’s rights and good governance but is challenged and misunderstood by her community. Aramotu was written and directed by Niji Akanni who is well known as a prolific writer in Nollywood, and who has directed television and other short projects. In addition to its Best Film, Director and Actress awards, it is also up for Best Film in an African Language as it is in Yoruba. Watch the trailer.
Hopeville is a South African made-for-tv mini series turned feature film. It tells the story of an alcoholic father played by ThembaNdaba who tries to win the love of his son (Junior Singo) by fixing the local swimming pool eventually inspiring and transforming the town and its inhabitants. Hopeville is up for nine awards including Best Film, Director, Lead Actor, Supporting Actor/Actress and Screenplay.
Soul Boy is a modern magical hero’s quest for 14 year-old Abila who lives with his parents in Kenya’s Kibera slums. Abila finds that his father has gambled away his soul to a spiritual woman, and has to undertake seven challenging tasks to save his father’s lost soul. This was the film debut of young Ghanaian-Kenyan direcotor Hawa Essuman. Soul Boy film was co-directed by German filmmaker Tom Tykwer known for Run, Lola, Run among others. See the trailer here and read a review here.
So far, these films seem to be an inspiring representation of what Africa has to offer. In the next part of this series, I’ll document my attempt to watch these films and others on the nomination list, and in so doing talk about African film distribution, marketing and sales.
Congrats to this year’s nominees and watch out for part 2 of this series.
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