Peace Anyiam-Osigwe is the founder of Africa Movie Academy Awards (AMAA). In this interview with Jen Ehidiamen, CP-Africa’s feature editor; the Law and Political Science graduate of Oxford Brookes University tells us why AMAA is different from other awards, her role in the film industry, her career etc. Her advise to younger generation in the movie industry? She says, “Exceed your best and continually reinvent yourself by empowering your talent…” Read the full Interview below:
How has African movies inspired you?
Peace Anyiam-Osigwe: I draw inspiration from various aspects and encounters and experiences of people I meet work and interact with throughout the globe. My family is one of my greatest support and inspiration and most of what I try to achieve is a reflection of the society that I try to touch and learn from.
In relation to African Cinema, I find it speaks to my heart in a way that I can relate to, which is an audio-visual experience of our unique story telling style. It appeals to our people and me.
I have many mentors in the industry that has always extended their wisdom and expertise, which is rare in the industry. I feel this is one of the reasons that African films are so successful – we are real people with real stories.
What do you think about the quality of films being produced in Africa?
Peace Anyiam-Osigwe: There is a vast improvement and movement towards uplifting the production levels to become a world-class player. Much still needs to be done but we are on a journey and there is hope for the future as we embrace technology to enhance our production.
Barrier to entry is funding rather than lack of expertise so we are working hard in turning this around. I am very proud of our more recent productions that are on par with the best of the international arena. We can only get better so the only way is up!
Why Africa Movie Academy Awards?
Peace Anyiam-Osigwe: …This is to support our vision that the awards are for Africa as a whole including our brothers and sisters beyond our continent’s borders. It is to embrace and unite us throughout the world as long as your roots is linked to our continent, your story is about africa or Africans, the AMAA is here to Celebrate the Beauty that lies within African Cinema.
There is an old Ibo saying that unless you call your self somebody nobody will call you somebody. AMAA has helped elevate the value of films made in Africa, by showcasing and acknowledging the roles of our continent in the various aspects of film.
What motive is behind such a prestigious award?
Peace Anyiam-Osigwe: We are the Africa’s equivalent of the Oscars or the Baftas for Africa and we strive to be the best the continent has to offer. The prestigious status is to live up to our promises that we celebrate and acknowledge equally what Hollywood and Bollywood do for their industry. In addition we must not wait for the international audience to appreciate us, we must do it ourselves and we are doing that with the AMAA’S.
There are lots of controversies when it comes to African awards, how do they intend to maintain integrity?
Peace Anyiam-Osigwe: Transparency and honest partnership with all our projects is fundamental. We think international but we act local and respect culture traditions and we can only hope that any challenge we encounter is a step in learning how to grow from it. One of our organization’s values is integrity so we have to walk the talk and lead from the front.
There has been a proliferation of entertainment awards these past years. How is AMAA different from these other awards?
Peace Anyiam-Osigwe: We are grateful for all these initiatives as each brings a special acknowledgment that can only benefit the industry. AMAA’s is in the 8th edition and our success can be contributed that we occupy a niche in the market and that we deliver to our marketing promises since inception. We continually Review assesses and evaluates how we can add value to our people. We try to both be Responsive and show courage to the awards to the people. It is truly a Pan African Awards with both a local and international flavour. We transcend across the globe and no one is excluded from participation as long as they share in our vision of
development of the arts.
Since its inception in 2005, many recipients of AMAA have gone on to gain global recognition. What more should we expect from AMAA?
Peace Anyiam-Osigwe: That is the accolade we pray and we are humbled that this is achieved on the global platform. However we appreciate that AMAA’s may raise awareness and recognition of the fantastic talent of our African Cinema it is the individual achievement and passion of our people that drives them beyond our borders. They are the ones who take the opportunities post their collective and/or individual achievements to escalate to even higher aspirations. We are grateful if the support we offered assisted them to reach their dreams.
Your theme for the next award is “Africa is Rising.” What informed your decision to pick this as theme?
Peace Anyiam-Osigwe: Africa is on the move and as we near the maturity level of the brand, it was time to energize and expand and rise to meet the expectations of Africa and beyond. We have laid the foundations explored new frontiers and worked the ground. Now amidst all this dynamic platforms we have only one other to achieve in our Mid Term Goals to Rise to the Occasion and take Africa to new and elevated landscapes.
Where do you see the movie industry in the next decade?
Peace Anyiam-Osigwe: Gigantic and enriching and bringing joy to those who are yet to have access to the magic of film wherever they may be.
Do you see the Internet as a threat to cinema/movie industry? If yes, why? If no, why not?
Peace Anyiam-Osigwe: Social media is the latest trend and we cannot ignore its impact or influence. The key is to integrate it into the daily operations of how consumers wish to view content. So as world players you have to ensure you provide these to your customers and viewers at an affordable yet attractive package that is still unique and appetizing to the masses who no longer just want the conventional.
In the past we had the book Things Fall apart in a film format. But there are rarely any more of such adaptation of books to screen. Why do you think there is a decline in adaptation of books into screen?
Peace Anyiam-Osigwe: It may just be that the media of print is so pure that only a few film-makers would be able to really do a brilliant adaptation and expect that would do justice in screenplay. I also feel that in the Past its been difficult to get the rights to some of these books at an affordable price. However there are lots of changes happening in the creative industries I am confident that these will soon roll out adaptation- it will be the next stage. There are few already in the pipe line.
Aside the award, what other role do you play in boosting the movie industry in Africa?
Peace Anyiam-Osigwe: Various projects that I work on are linked to support our endeavors for the youth. Each is linked either directly or indirectly towards empowerment of youth and industry building and women. The FILM IN A BOX Project is one that I am very passionate about – advocating for women in making their voices heard.
Tell us a bit more about yourself (your background, career path, aspirations etc.)
Peace Anyiam-Osigwe: I graduated with a Degree in Law and Political Science from Oxford Brookes University. I am also a presenter of talk shows, writer and producer. One of my trademark projects is the training of young filmmakers called Film in the Box, which is run by the Africa Film Academy. Some of my film productions include such notable titles as Blind Date, Fear of the Unknown, Sons of Thunder, Messenger of Doom, Preacher Daughter, and Laviva. My television programmes include Ada, Gra Women, and Young Stars.
In addition I was also the National Vice- President of the Association of Movie Producers (AMP) and Director of finance for the Filmmakers’ Co-Operative of Nigeria. My contribution to the Africa Film industry is reflected in a documentary “Peace Mission” directed by Dorothee Wenner, and premiered at the prestigious Toronto film festival in 2009.
I served on numerous juries like the Berlin film festival, short film jury and Cine Del Sur. This is coupled with being a speaker at several panels on African cinema, from Fespaco – to the Rio film festival. I am also a Ted Fellow and was selected for the Pan African film festival/africa channel Visionary award for contribution in promoting African culture through the internationally recognized (AMAA) in 2010, and coupled with another internationally acclaimed award- the African Visionary Award by UNESCO in Cannes.
Wow! You have achieved and are achieving a lot! What is your advice to young upcoming movie producers, directors, actors/actresses and other stakeholders in the movie industry to ensure growth in the industry?
Peace Anyiam-Osigwe: Exceed your best and continually reinvent yourself by empowering your talent with new skills. Educate and share knowledge and embrace change for it is the only constant thing that is guaranteed. You have to do new things to get new results.
CP-Africa.com recently published a release on Africa Movie Academy Awards calling for 2012 entries. Click here for more info on how to apply!