Organisers of the prestigious Africa Magic Viewer’s Choice Awards can pat themselves for a job well done for an admirable job organising the 6th version of the annual awards show. Now that the most talked about movie event of the year is over, there are a few things learned from Africa Magic’s journey to organising the most talked about movie event of the year.
From the change of date, from March to September, to the quality of nominees, this year’s show has had controversial moments but on the 1st of September, organisers of the show came out strong, ready to overturn every bad review that has trailed the 6th year of the Award show and they did a good job of it.
The 6th Africa Magic Viewer’s choice Awards was full of light, hope, beauty, humour and it stamped why there is no award show as anticipated as the AMVCA, in Nigeria.
IK Osakioduwa and Minnie Dlamini-Jones returned for the third time as hosts. The third time is really the charm for these two as they juggled a charged-up audience and met up with the energy from the crowd, and with expectations across Africa. In between monologues and quick quips, they kept the audience entertained.
Jokes directed at Dino Melaye, Richard Mofe Damijo, an impromptu jab at actors, serenading the crowd and an ill joke about dancers, IK is unbeatable in this game. IK knows his onions and he knows how to win an audience.
He had a hopeful companion in Minnie Dlamini, whose energy was a calming balm every time she appeared on stage, through the three-hour show.
The balance and an understanding of the audience made them a truly enjoyable duo.
The nominees’ list released on the 1st of July caused quite the controversy. The organisers turned the controversy into something remarkable by rewarding some of the critically acclaimed films that made the list. While the AMVCA allows for public voting in some categories, the Award show exerted power when it chose to honour 18 Hours by Phoebe Ruguru, Isoken by Jade Osiberu, Adjetey Anang for Keteke and Omotola Jalade for Alter Ego.
These films and the actors have received rave reviews from Kenya, Nigeria and Ghana. For Adjetey who was nominated twice in the same category, his win has been a long time coming. Adjetey is one of the most dazzling performers in Ghana. Film after film, he has placed priority on method acting, this method of performance is not a thing for many film actors in this part of the world, and every time Adjetey is on screen, he creates unforgettable moments.
Phoebe Ruguru is fairly known and has gotten glowing reviews for 18 Hours in Kenya. While many people in the audience seemed shocked at the win, the energy of Phoebe and her team proved how hopeful she was, that her work will be recognized. Reviews on Kenyan blogs also show that 18 Hours is a decent project that should be seen by an audience outside Kenya.
Jade Osiberu created an exciting cultural moment, bringing back Dakore Akande to the big screen in one of the better success stories of the past year. Jade took two Awards home and gave one of the most inspiring speech of the night.
Omotola Jalade won Best Actress for Alter Ego, despite mixed reviews for the film, many exalted her strong performance in the social conscious story. With over 20 years in the industry, this is Omotola’s first AMVCA win.
Big Brother stars also had their moments with Bisola Aiyeola taking the Trailblazer Award home and Lilian Afegbai for “Bounce” in the indigenous category. What these wins re-iterated was how a reality show platform can be used for continuous career improvement and success.
What was disappointing was the absence of the Industry merit achievement winner Tunde Kelani. It would have been beautiful — a top moment even, to see the filmmaker mount the stage after the beautiful tribute given by colleague, Femi Odugbemi.
While the better-known Presenters were cheered on as soon as they mounted the stage, Ngozi Nwosu, Charles Inojie and Lasisi Elenu allowed the talent that has kept them relevant reflect in their award monologues. They got the crowd laughing and cheering and the AMVCA can do with more laughing and cheering despite the remarkable effort from the hosts.
How they can do this is by being deliberate about the presenters and the script given to each of them.
What the AMVCA did not need was an Alex or Tobi of the Big Brother Fame on stage.
Despite its glamour, the AMVCA is an event that honours achievement in film. Actors/Filmmakers/Musicians that have had a number of years work experience in the industry should be given opportunities to present awards in different categories. It is the opportunity that the AMVCA is there to provide.
Africa Magic can put more focus into giving more actors the opportunity to present. On a stage where Ebele Okaro, Dakore Egbuson, Charles Inojie, and Omotola Jalade were coming up to give awards to other colleagues, it was underwhelming to see the big brother stars appear with ill written jokes.
There were also forgettable presenting moments. Every moment: through writing scripts for presenters, rehearsals to the presentation of the awards should matter to show organisers. If every award matters, then a well-written script should be given to award presenters. When a presenter comes on stage and gives an underwhelming intro, the audience will look elsewhere — at their phones especially, and this happened with presenters that came in to just announce the winners. Not everyone has the presence of an Ireti Doyle, who could come read from a paper and still have eyes looking and ears listening. It would have been great for the show to write jokes for every presenter, rather than a select few. Once a presenter had nothing to offer the audience, they lost interest in even the winner.
MORE RECOGNITION OF AFRICAN MOVIES
The AMVCA has received backlash for honouring mostly Nigerian films in the past. The award show allows filmmakers to submit their films for consideration and what it means to see more Nigerian films in the list is that the announcement is not spread enough for other African filmmakers to submit their films. Instead of the best film East Africa or Southern Africa, can all these categories be merged into the best overall film? This will be an opportunity to create a more competitive category. Reduce show time. Create juries in different parts of Africa to bring the best films to the limelight.
This will also be an opportunity where South Africans are able to see a Kenyan Overall film winner and check it out. Where Nigerians will see an overall winning film made by a South African and check it out. What this will do is promote an interest in films from other countries. It will allow cross-cultural consumption of entertainment, which is a better way of appreciating different cultures. Many people left the event on the 1st, deeply interested in Phoebe’s 18 Hours.
TIME MANAGEMENT AND AUDIENCE MANAGEMENT
For anyone that attended the 2018 AMVCA, one thing was clear, the show was well organised in registering attendees and getting them seated.
However, once the show began, many people walked into the hall and could not find where to sit. Were more people invited than usual? Did uninvited guests find their way in? People walked into the hall very late and instead of experience the event, they kept active, moving in and out of the hall.
Africa Magic can do better with setting rules for how people that are in the live audience enjoy the show. If the show begins at 7PM, then all doors should be shut at 7:15 PM and every invited guest should enjoy the show without distractions. In events like this, people leave because they are bored, but the AMVCA 2018 had magical moments to keep the guests in, what failed was that there were no rules to stop distractions from happening.
In announcing its winners, organisers can also consider announcing top acting categories early into the show. A big win can keep the interest active for a long time. The hosts cannot do it all.
The experience at the 2018 Africa Magic Viewer’s Choice Awards will remain unforgettable for a long time. Remarkable effort was made to make the show drive social media conversation, to influence actions in filmmakers, make them aspire to get on the stage and keep the creative drive in Africa moving.
What sets the Viewer’s Choice Award apart from other awards is the platform that Africa Magic and Multichoice gives. While production-wise, the award show is unbeatable, it can dig deeper into more African films, be more adventurous with nominations and create a better blend of African creativity. The AMVCA is especially a great platform to showcase African Creatives, from different countries to the millions of people who tune in. Above fashion moments, it should remind filmmakers that no matter where they come from, their stories are valid.