The Race to AMVCA Begins


Vanessa Obioha

Africa Magic recently announced the nominees for its seventh edition of Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards (AMVCA) scheduled to hold in March. The nomination list reflects the battle for supremacy between old and young Nollywood.

‘Living in Bondage: Breaking Free’ and ‘God Calling’ lead the list with 11 nods each including Best Director and Best Film in West Africa.

While the sequel to the beloved classic ‘Living in Bondage’ is the directorial debut of veteran actor Ramsey Nouah, ‘God Calling’ marks the second directing attempt by B.B Sasore. Both films boast high production quality and powerful storylines.

‘Living in Bondage’ picked up from the original story by Kenneth Nnebue about a young man who sacrificed his wife for material wealth and faced the circumstances. In Nouah’s film, the focus is on the son who ran into the cult leader now known as The Six and tempted with similar offers. The film became the 10th highest grossing Nigerian film after making N103.7 million in its third week in the cinemas.

Sasore’s ‘God Calling’ on the other hand is a faith-based story mostly celebrated for its stunning visual effects. It stars veterans like Onyeka Onwenu, Richard Mofe-Damijo and Nkem Owoh.

Both films fetched nods for the young and old hands in Nollywood. For instance, ‘Living in Bondage’ sequel fetched a first time nod for Swanky J.K.A. in the Best Actor in a Drama, Movie or TV series category; and Larry Gaga who produced the soundtrack of the movie in the Best Soundtrack category. His duet with musician Flavour ‘Tene’ was nominated in this category.

For ‘God Calling’, BB Sasore received his first nomination for Best Director, while veteran Nkem Owoh was nominated in the Best Supporting Actor category.

Kemi Adetiba emerged the only woman nominated in the Best Director category for her film ‘King of Boys’ which scooped seven nominations alongside ‘Ratnik’ and ‘Seven’.

The Best Actor in a Drama, Movie/TV series category mostly sees young actors vying for the coveted prize. Timini Egbuson gets a chance to shine for his role in the film ‘Elevator Baby’ as well as J.KA. for ‘Living in Bondage: Breaking Free’. Efa Iwara is also another newbie in that category. The three young stars are contending with Ramsey Nouah who has only been nominated once in this category (2017) for the movie ’76.

Zainab Balogun and Toyin Abraham will be contending with veterans Kate Henshaw and Sola Sobowale in the Best Actress category.
Although the Bolanle Austen-Peters 2019 film ‘Bling Lagosians’ nabbed two nominations, (Best Actress in Comedy and Best Art Director) it didn’t fetch any nomination for its lead actress Elvina Ibru.

New categories for the awards were also announced. They include the MultiChoice Talent Factory Award that will recognise films made by the past students of the academy in each region, that is East Africa, Southern Africa and West Africa.

There will also be for the first time, an award for the most dressed male or female guest at the glamorous event.

Of all the 28 categories, only the Best Overall Picture was not announced. According to the hosts of the nomination announcement, Linda Ejiofor and Ibrahim Suleiman, the nominees will be announced on the day of the event.

This year’s jury was headed by prolific filmmaker Femi Odugbemi who returned for the fourth time. Odugbemi expressed confidence that the world is ready for Africa while speaking on the nominees announcement. “Over the course of seven editions, it’s plain to see how the quality has improved; in new storytelling, cinematography, sound especially and also in quality of performances…The AMVCAs is a celebration of Africa’s untold stories. The world is ready for Africa and there are many Africans in the diaspora who are longing to hear stories of their own heritage. So I think we have something like a perfect storm right now. The audience is there right now and is spread across the world. Also, culturally, Africa is a place of interest.” Voting is now open to viewers to vote for their favourites.