AMVCA: A Glittering Night When African Stars Dazzle

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Dakore Akande

On a night glittering with well-heeled screen gladiators and professionals on the African continent’s film industry, only one thing was missing: an enthusiastic audience, writes Vanessa Obioha

Holding the Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards (AMVCA) event outside its usual season, points to a dwindling sponsorship or the need to reinvent the continental reward platform for the film industry. To a large extent, the sixth edition of the AMVCA did not prove to be overwhelming. 

For the first time, it got the backing of the Lagos State government. The state’s support shows the present administration’s commitment to promoting the arts and culture industry.

Notable brands such as Airtel, Konga, Martell Cognac had visible presence at the ceremony.

With the impressive number of sponsors, few changes were seen on the awards’ script. In its usual tradition, the show opened with a cultural performance. This edition saw the filmmaker and choreographer, Yibo Koko, and his cultural troupe perform a snippet of his critically acclaimed ‘Seki’ dance drama. Musical performances from Big Brother Naija 2017 first runner-up Bisola Aiyeola, Falz, Adekunle Gold, Cobhams and opera singer Omo Bello also spiced up the night.

However, it was the huge turnout that secured the AMVCA its rightful place as the Africa Oscars. Screen gladiators and professionals in the continent film industry arrived in large droves at Eko Hotels and Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos, last weekend, donning iconic pieces as if they were in a competition to outdo their coevals on the red  carpet. The fans and wannabes were not left out in the fashion war. From classy to trashy pieces, the AMVCA red carpet was a theatre of some sort. The red carpet bubbled with much frenzy that one expected the main show would be as vibrant. 

The reverse was unfortunately the case. 

With the hall filled to capacity, the atmosphere was underwhelming. IK Osakioduwa, who hosted the event alongside South African Minnie Dlamini-Jones was the first to notice the dullness when he asked them to perform a breathing exercise. The response was lukewarm  but the host quickly attributed it to nerves. 

As the night progressed, it became apparent that the lackluster ambience had nothing to do with the butterflies in the stomach of the nominees. The audience were seemingly waiting for a wow moment that would spark up the night.

Sitting through the entire event was more of keeping up an appearance than actively participating in the show. The winners were hardly cheered with few exceptions like Odunlade Adekola and Aiyeola who were dramatic in their acceptance speeches. 

The audience’s cold reception was very glaring when Nollywood actress Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde was announced the winner of the Best Actress in a Lead Role in Movie/TV Series category. Only few members of the audience cheered. The reaction  could hardly ignite a spark, despite the fact that it was her first AMVCA trophy. Their reaction could  mean either the thespian had few fans in the hall or is envied by her colleagues at the gathering. It is often whispered in the industry that the Nollywood actress hardly celebrates her colleagues. Could this be payback time for the superstar of the night? 

While the hosts did an excellent job in entertaining the audience with their charm and wit, the organisers, MultiChoice and Africa Magic, may however revisit the boardroom and look at innovative ways to keep the audience entertained for its over three-hour duration.

The Dramatic Kenyans

The Kenyans who took home trophies were very dramatic in their acceptance speeches. Mark Maina, who won the Best Picture Editor in Movie/TV Series for the movie ‘18 Hours’, couldn’t help thanking all his family members for their support. Bubbling with excitement, he told the gathering that he recently became a parent and his son is four months old.

 Nyce Wanjeri, who took home the trophy for Best Actress in a Comedy, was more ecstatic that it was her first nomination, her first win and, of course, her first time in Nigeria.

It was however the Kenyan filmmaker, Phoebe Ruguru’s childlike mannerisms that elicited laughter from the audience. Apparently tensed, she kept turning and shuffling her feet throughout her acceptance speech.  IK couldn’t resist teasing her as regards her gestures. 

First-timers Mania

First time winners are always a delight to watch because of the exciting ways they express their joy and surprise. The 2018 AMVCA had its  share of first-timers euphoria. From Bisola’s dramatic enthusiasm when she was announced the winner of  the Trailblazer award to Adekola and his entourage’s solidarity display. There was also Ngozi Obasi — winner of the Best Costume Designer category — who just lost her mother but in ‘Naija spirit’ decided to attend the event. At last, Ghanaian actress 

Lydia Forson finally knew what it felt like to win an AMVCA trophy. Fighting tears, she told the audience that each time she lost out in the awards, she pretended to be happy for the winner.

Funny Presenters

It was selfie time when veteran actress Ngozi Nwosu who featured in the Airtel data TV commercial waltzed on to the stage to present the award for Best Supporting Actor in a Movie or TV Series which was sponsored by the telecom brand. The catchy phrase ‘selfie time’ was used in the advert.

Comedian and actor Charles Inojie also injected his viral pidgin expression, ‘Na dem dey rush us’ during his award presentation. 

Known for their humour, actors Toyin Abraham and Adekola spiced up their presentation with a light banter in Yoruba language during their presentation of the award for the Best Indigenous Movie or TV Series in Yoruba language.

Memorable Performances

Award-winning artiste Cobhams got a standing ovation when he performed a spontaneous remix of his single, ‘One Hit’. Playing with notable Nollywood characters, he delivered a beautiful performance that brought the house down.

Opera singer, Omo Bello, though gave a breathtaking act her art was under-appreciated by most members of the audience.

The Wild Child Unleashed

He is called a ‘wild child’ for a reason. From the beginning to the end of the show, IK served witty jokes, including a shot at Senator Dino Melaye, whom he advised to try the sound and sight business since music isn’t his forte. At a point, he flirted with a married woman in the audience until her husband who was seated next to her, pulled her into his arms for fear of  IK’s Midas touch. 

Again, he echoed publicly his desire to act alongside Nollywood star actress, Genevieve Nnaji.

Praise for African Creative Industry

Most of the awardees of the night spoke passionately about the continent film industry. Ex-footballer Segun Odegbami who represented Tunde Kelani, the recipient of the Industry Merit Award told the audience that the film industry is on the verge of a renaissance, “a new black civilization is about to launch”.

Falz Preaches a Better Nigeria

While accepting his award for Best Supporting Actor in a Movie or TV Series, the ‘This is Nigeria’ crooner urged the audience to get their PVCs and vote in the upcoming elections if they want to see a better Nigeria.