Why it’s time for AMVCA Best Film winners to be strictly jury-selected

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Minnie Dlamini co-hosted the night with IK Osakioduwa

Another brilliantly put-together edition of the Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards (AMVCA) has come and gone.

Saturday marked the fifth edition of the event which has within a few years established itself as the most respected and looked-forward-to film awards ceremony, not only in Nigeria but in Africa as a whole.

As is evident in its name, one of the things that make the AMVCA a fan-favourite is the fact that many of its categories are voting-based. The average Africa Magic viewer is given an opportunity to choose who they think are deserving of some of the awards.

 AMVCA 2017: See the full list of winners

Among the categories subjected to audience choice are the Best Regional Movie categories, the Best Indigenous Language categories, and the Best Actor categories.

Winners in the technical categories such as the Best Cinematographer, Best Art Director, Best Director and of course, the Best Overall Film Categories are chosen by the AMVCA jury.

Last year, Genevieve Nnaji‘s Road to Yesterday was named the Best West African Film as chosen by Africa Magic viewers while the awards jury selected Stephanie Linus‘ film about VVF, Dry as the Best Overall Movie. Both films fell under the West African category. This year, something similar occurred.

Nnaji and Linus

The high-budget but slightly painful to watch Rogers Ofime production, Oloibiri was voted the winner of the Best West African Film category by fans while the judges couldn’t resist awarding the Izu Ojukwu‘s ’76 the Best Overall Film award.

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Truth be told, if the Best West African Film category was judged by the AMVCA jury, I am doubtful that Oloibiri would make it into the top two of the films nominated in that category. Let’s take a brief look at the other films in that category, shall we?

93 Days
A Trip to Jamaica

I do not see any way ’76 and 93 Days would not have been picked before Oloibiri. As good as the intentions behind that film was, there were portions of the film that made it inferior to those other two as per a work of art.

It says a lot about how far we have to go in the sound department that this film was part of the nominees in the sound category. The movie’s sound, in my opinion, was one of the weakest points in the film.

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Let’s also not forget that the film which we allowed to win Best West African Film over the Best Overall Film did not even make the nomination list for the Best Overall Film category. That says a freaking lot.

It’s enough that we allow viewers to choose who their best actors are. That in itself is not a very bad thing. But when a best actor emerges for a film 80% of voters haven’t seen (see Sambassa Nzeribe for Slow Country), then it is a problem. And one that should be addressed soon too.

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Most of those who voted for Nzeribe voted for Sambassa Nzeribe as Sambassa Nzeribe the person, not Sambassa Nzeribe’s performance in Slow Country.

When the young man was announced as the Best Actor, there were many whispers of ‘Huh? What is Slow Country’ close to where I sat myself in the hall. Of course, we were all happy for him but many still are yet to watch the film the won the award for.

What I am proposing may sound ridiculous to the organisers but I think that is the way to go. For the sake of the awards. Now is the time for AMVCA to cement its place – for life – as the most respected movie awards to come out of Africa. And little holes like these are probably what stands between the AMVCA and that.

This post first appeared on TNS.

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