The wave-making Nigerian military drama, 76 needs to win 10 categories to sit on the pinnacle as Africa’s most appreciated film

Nseobong Okon-Ekong

The record for the most nominated movie at the Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards, AMVCA, previously held by Kunle Afolayan’s ‘October 1’ has a new champion in the Nigerian military drama, 76 which is up for honours in 14 categories. This is a first in the four-year history of the awards.

In 2015, October 1 was nominated in 13 categories and won in nine of the categories including Best Art Director which went to Pat Nebo. Incidentally, Nebo is in contention again for playing the same role in 76, apart from acting a prominent supporting role. His role as an actor is a surprise to many and further demonstrates the ability of the director of 76, Izu Ojukwu to bring out the best in anyone.

This year, Afolayan’s movie, ‘The CEO’ may not have been nominated for as many awards, but he is in contention for the big prize of Best Movie (West Africa).

Industry watchers have their fingers crossed in anticipation. Will the Tonye Princewill and Adonijah Owiriwa led team of cast and crew set an all-time African record for the most number of trophies at a film awards? The movie is slated for honours in prestigious categories such as The Best Overall Movie, Best Director, Best Picture Editor, Best Sound, Best Art Director, Best Film (West Africa), Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Costume, Best Makeup, Best Lighting, Best Writer, Best Cinematographer, and Best Music.

Eligibility period for the 2017 AMVCA consideration are for films, made-for-television movies or television series broadcasted or publicly exhibited between October 1, 2015 and September 30, 2016.
Apart from adopting a couple of innovative marketing and media relations strategies to make it a must-see movie, 76 landed landmark deals in Hollywood and became the first Nigerian movie to screen at the London Film Festival.

Making a good showing on the AMVCA nomination list is the Steve Gukas directed drama thriller ‘93 Days’ which equaled the October 1 record of 13 nominations. 76 and 93 Days are in hot contention for Best Overall Movie, Best Movie (West Africa) Best Actress, Best Art Director and Best Soundtrack/Original Score. Both films are clearly the leading works on the AMVCA honours scroll for 2016.
The Best Male category has Olu Jacobs and Richard Mofe-Damijo for their lead performances in the movie ‘Oloibiri.’

‘93 Days,’ ‘76,’ ‘Aisha,’ ‘Mrs. Right Guy,’ ‘Happiness Is A Four Letter Word,’ ‘Naomba Niseme,’ will go head-to-head for the coveted ‘Overall Movie of the Year,’ while in another top category , for Best Movie (West Africa), ’76 will battle it out with ‘93 days,’ ‘The CEO’ and ‘A Trip To Jamaica’ .
Other films of note with multiple nominations include ‘Oloibiri,’ ‘Happiness Is A Four Letter Word,’ and ‘Ghana Must Go.’
Voting closes on Friday, February 24, 2017 while the main event is scheduled to hold on Saturday, March 4, in Lagos.

ENTER SAHARA FILM EXTRAPRENEURS
The moment his name was announced as the winner of the Sahara Group Film Extrapreneurs competition, Joseph Duke bowed his head on the table. He was speechless for the first few minutes. Only his smiles portrayed the emotional depth of his gratitude.
It was a dream come true for Duke who during his presentation expressed a strong desire to work with prolific filmmaker, Kunle Afolayan.

Duke will now spend six months with the filmmaker where he will sharpen his skills in film production.
Duke’s documentary entitled ‘Give Us This Day’, which beat entries from 20 finalists, highlighted the challenges faced by entrepreneurs, including a story about caring for special needs children. More than 150 entries were received in ‘Grooming Film Extrapreneuers’ competition which began in June 2016 following the partnership between Sahara Group and the award winning filmmaker Kunle Afolayan, designed to identify and empower young film makers in Nigeria.

The competition required young film makers to create 15-minute documentaries that capture and celebrate entrepreneurs at work across the nation, using the theme: My Nigeria, My Platform…Nigeria through an entrepreneur’s eyes. 20 finalists were shortlisted out of which Duke emerged the winner.
The competition also attracted entries from outside Nigeria. Two of such entries stood out. They include: Daniel Ecwalu (Trash Cash – story based on taking children off the streets and empowering them) from Uganda and Akshay Makar (Climatenza – The happenings of Climate Change).

Chinenye Balogun and Alabi Kayode emerged first and second runners up respectively, with entries that showcased the creativity and resilience of Nigerian entrepreneurs. They will join Duke to attend the 2017 Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France with support from Sahara Group. While announcing the winners, Tonye Cole, Group Executive Director, Sahara Group, congratulated all the 20 finalists for rising up to the challenge of taking their craft to the next level.

“You are lucky your generation has this kind of opportunity which Kunle Afolayan and I never had. When you get this kind of opportunity you take it seriously. At Sahara we are willing to go the extra mile to take entrepreneurship to a different level. That is why we created the Extrapreneurship platform to facilitate a meeting point for talent and opportunity. We believe you have the potential to be the best in the sector as well as change the narrative of Nigeria and the entire continent through your films,” he said.

Cole further explained that the competition is part of Sahara Group’s contribution to the development and growth of the Nigerian economy. He said the 20 finalists will be inducted into Sahara Group’s extrapreneurship hub where young entrepreneurs can access support to nurse their dreams to fruition.
Afolayan, who led the screening of the entries, said he was impressed by the documentaries. He said entries were assessed based on sound, lighting, production design and quality.

“I feel privileged to have seen all the documentaries,” he said, adding: “I believe you all have the potential to do even much more. You are the next big success stories we expect to emerge from Nigeria. There are a few things I observed. I saw a common trend in the entries where you all concentrated on telling stories which is common in Nollywood. However, there are certain elements that are vital achieving success in film making. What is very important is the production value. If your production value is poor your story will never fly no matter how good it is.”

Describing his success as a “pleasant surprise”, Duke said: I am very happy to have won the competition. I wasn’t expecting this at all. I am grateful to Sahara Group for the opportunity. I look forward to working with Kunle Afolayan.”

Sahara Group hopes to reach over 12 million youths via its Extrapreneurship Hub that will drive integrated economic empowerment programmes through strategic partnerships and support for innovative as well as scalable business ventures.

NOLLYWOOD TRAVEL FESTIVAL CALL FOR ENTRIES

– Ikenna Bede

A new initiative piloted by top influencers in the entertainment iindustry is poised to bridge the gap between locally produced entertainment content and the international audience.

Called The Nollywood Travel Festival, it will showcase influential Nigerian movies at international film festivals around the world. The first stop of its three city tour will be at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), Canada, scheduled to run through 5-7 May, 2017. It plans to feature the Nigerian culture in positive light to Canadians at TIFF using select Nigerian films, music, fashion and local cuisines. The other two stops will be in Helsinki, Finland and Dubai city in the UAE.

The panel will from a list of submissions select 10 movies; comprising eight locally produced movies by Nigerian filmmakers and two movies by Nigerian film makers based in Canada.

The aim of the festival focuses on internationalizing Nollywood content whilst changing the skewed perception of poor content production in Nollywood to the rest of the world – a move for global acceptance.
Further speaking on the impact the Nollywood Film Festival will have on domestic movie production, founder of the Nollywood Travel Festival, Michael Parish said:

“I think it is going to help foster competition and enhance the quality of films produced, because films will not be taken if they are not good enough. When producers realize that there are opportunities out there for films that are really good, they will step their game to ensure that their films are picked.”
The platform gives the much needed international exposure, pushing local film makers to the international audience, an opportunity for Nigerians film makers to tell the African story from their angle to the rest of the world.

At a press conference, Blaze FM Marketing Executive Andrew Moses expressed confidence in the venture and the willingness of agencies to sponsor movie producers.

“It will be very interesting marketing this project because before now, it has been difficult for Nollywood to get sponsors for their brand this time around. What we have been doing is getting sponsorship deals in the advertising world.”
Film submissions for considerations is currently open. Shortlisted participants will travel to Canada; providing an avenue for the film makers to directly engage with international film distributors.