Lagos, Nigeria is set to host Africa and the international film community at the eighth Africa Movie Academy Awards (AMAA), taking place this Sunday, 22 April 2012, at the Expo Centre, Eko Hotel & Suites. At the World Media Conference held in Lagos recently, AMAA founder Peace Anyiam Osigwe announced “Africa Rising” as the theme of this year’s awards.
“After decades of being one of the largest consumers of foreign films in the world, the nearly one billionstrong African audience is embracing its continent’s unique stories and storytellers,” says Peace. “A new wave of African filmmakers has emerged across the continent. In Nigeria, Nollywood has effectively repositioned Africa’s creative industries. South Africa, known for years as a popular service destination for international films, is now making a record number of local films. Countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo have made a good showing internationally, with Viva Riva! winning Best Film at the seventh edition of AMAA and being released to critical acclaim in 18 countries across the continent.”
Some of the biggest names from black Hollywood will be at The AMAAs, including Emmy winner and Golden Globe nominee Lynn Whitfield (The JosephineBaker Story and Without a Trace); Morris Chestnut (American Horror Story, Boyz in the Hood); Rockmond Dunbar (Prison Break, Sons of Anarchy) and Maya Gilbert (General Hospital, Days of Our Lives).
Heroes star Jimmy Jean-Louis will host the prestigious awards, which will include performances from Asa, 2Face Idibia and Senegal’s Viviane Ndour.
AMAA received 328 entries from across Africa in 2012, up from 220 in 2011. Nigeria has a narrow lead with 52 nominations, followed closely by South Africa with 45, Ghana with 17, and Kenya with 14. South Africa’s Otelo Burning scooped the most nominations (13), followed by South African film How 2 Steal 2 Million (11) and Nigeria’s Benin-set historical epic Adesuwa (10). Ghana’s civil war film Somewhere in Africa has seven nominations, as does the Nigerian-South African xenophobia-themed coproduction Man on Ground. Kenya’s Rugged Priest, Ghana’s Ties That Bind and South Africa’s State of Violence all have six.
The African Diaspora, a key market for African content, has been included in AMAA, with France’s Toussaint Louverture, Jamaica’s Ghett’a Life and Better Mus’ Come. Canada’s High Chicago, Guadalupe’s Elza and America’s Kinyanrwanda competing for Best Diaspora Feature. Germany’s Education of Auma Obama, The USA’s White Wash and All Me: The Life And Times Of Winfred Hubert, and Guadalupe’s Almendron Mi Corazon will fight it out for Best Diaspora Documentary.
The real focus, however, is on African films made by Africans in Africa. “The purpose of The AMAAs is to encourage and reward creativity and to celebrate our people, ” says Peace. “Africa offers a lucrative film market because our filmmakers produce movies that African audiences can identify with and relate to their everyday lives.”
Dr. Asantewa Olantunji, director of programming of The Pan African Film Festival, headed this year’s jury, which included June Giavanni, programmer for Planet Africa at The Toronto International Film Festival; Keith Shiri, founder and film curator at the London festival, Africa at The Pictures; Dorothee Wenner, a curator at The Berlin Film Festival; and Ayoko Babu, executive director of The Pan African Film Festival.
For the full list of nominees, visit http://www.ama-awards.com/.
High res pictures of Morris Chestnut and Lynn Whitfield are available on request.
AMAA founder Peace Anyiam-Osigwe is available to discuss the upcoming awards, and the power and potential of African cinema.