LAGOS, NIGERIA (JULY 15, 2017) (REUTERS) – Senegalese filmmaker Alain Gomis’ film ‘Felicite’ was the big winner of the night at the 13th African Movie Academy Awards (AMAA), one of the continent’s top honouring in film.
Felicite – a drama about a woman working as a singer in a bar while struggling to take care of her son, shows the realities of life in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
It has been a good season for ‘Felicite’, winning top prize at FESPACO in March and a Jury Prize at Berlinale the month before that.
“It just shows how much they have grown in the art and it’s also a wake up call for other African countries and from the director to the actors, and they weren’t speaking English so they could, were still able to do a good movie irrespective of the fact that it wasn’t an English movie which shows that I mean there are no excuses for perfection so kudos to Senegal, kudos to “Felicite” it was, it was the high evening,” said AMAA guest, Kemen Ekerette.
South African director Akin Omotosho took three awards for Best Director, Achievement in Sound, and Achievement in Screenplay for his film, “Vaya” – a three-plot yarn about survival and betrayal in the big city of Johannesburg.
Omotosho said African filmmakers need to see themselves as storytellers for the world, not just the continent.
“The film industry is challenging like any business like in the rest of the world, you know, so Africa is not different like the rest of the world in terms of the challenges of film making and we will continue to make great films you know. One of the films nominated tonight, Alain’s film, Felicite, that won the best prize in Berlin, Mira Nair’s Queen of Katwe, that is a world Disney film so that is what I mean. Let us not get myopic,” Omotosho says.
The annual award ceremony was founded by Nigerian filmmaker and entertainment executive, Peace Anyiam-Osigwe. Winners are selected by a jury made up of local and international film critics.
The glamourous ceremony was attended by film lovers and makers from around the world and held in Lagos, Nigeria – the hub of Nollywood, Africa’s largest film industry and according to UNESCO – second in the world after India’s Bollywood by the number of movies produced and followed by America’s Hollywood.
One of the other top winners of the night was Nigerian film ’76’ – the story of a young pregnant woman, and her soldier husband, accused of being involved in the 1976 military coup and assassination of General Murtala Mohammed.
“Its been a lot of hard work right. It took like five years and a bit to put together but we persevered. There were a lot of, you know, obstacles, a lot of, you know, bombs, but you know, we hung in there and finally here we are here, we are very excited,” said Owiriwa.
There were 27 categories including “Best Film By An African Living Abroad,” “Best Film In An African Language,” “Best Short Film,” “Best Cinematography,” among others.
Organizers say awards like these raise Africa’s film profile around the world and give much needed recognition to players in an industry that is still fledgling in many countries on the continent.