The Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards, established in 2013 is the continent’s Golden Globes, Peoples’ Choice and the Razzies all rolled into one. It likes to fancy itself as Africa’s Oscars but anyone who has followed the process that leads up to the awards would beg to differ.
Sure there are the presence of the A-list stars, the backing of MultiChoice; Africa’s biggest pay TV, and the fabulous prevents like the nominees brunch. Then there is the glittering red carpet, that dazzling stretch of fabulousity that has come to define the awards itself in the two years of its existence.
The AMVCAs has in a short space of time triumphed over other movie rewarding platforms and has only the Africa Movie Academy Awards (AMAA) to contend with in terms of prestige. An AMAA may bring industry clout and acclaim but the stars know that they would rather be at the AMVCAs, sipping wine and strutting their stuff.
For one, the AMVCAs in the past two years have been hosted in Lagos at the prestigious Eko Hotel. For the many industry practitioners who live and work in Lagos, this is quite convenient. Everyone is spared the hassle of clearing their schedules and dealing with booking agents, not to mention the attendant risks involved. Lagos is where the industry’s elite resides and it plays safer to have the event in such close proximity. Organisers put special care at planning the AMVCA and usually spare no expense in creating the lavish environment that the event has come to be associated with. Indeed you are not a star if you cannot score an invite to the party.
The awards proper are another matter. The AMVCAs have been dogged by some creeping issues since the onset. Most important of these is the nominations process and quality of films being rewarded. Lumping film and television in the same categories is a curious choice that makes it harder to judge fairly between the two media. Judging the acting performances from a field that includes both television and big screen work is immediately suspect as it hints of either laziness on the part of the organisers, or a damning state of the industry report. This only serves to ensure that the films and series aren’t necessarily judged on their merits. It is all acting yes, but the various technicalities involved demand that each be judged separately on their merits.
Then there is a matter of the awards itself. A good number of the high profile categories are left for the viewers to nominate and decide on the final winners. While this may invite audience participation and a sense of ownership of the process by Africa Magic viewers, it is often the case that the process becomes a popularity contest and actors with the largest fan base become the de facto winners. But to be fair, while the Rita Dominics and Funke Akindele are sure to be rewarded by this process, there have also been the rise of previously low key toilers like O.C. Ukeje and Tope Tedela who enjoyed that all important career resurgence after their wins over more established industry hands. Wins for the underdogs have only added to the AMVCAs prestige as an important star maker.
But when the nominations for this year were announced in December, it became even more difficult to take the AMVCA seriously as a credible platform. The nominees were an embarrassment of disasters. Films that had no business on lists that aren’t highlighting the worst in cinema were prominently featured. A Place in the stars, Invasion 1897, Make A Move and Honeymoon Hotel managed to worm their way into serious industry discussions. Worse still, a film like The Meeting — although critically and commercially acclaimed — which was released three years ago and was honoured subtly last year has made a comeback. Is there no cut off period for films under consideration, many wondered.
But all of this hardly matters it would seem. Come March 7, the shameless pandering would again result in the massive turn out of A-list stars as well as the plethora of carpet sweeping gowns, fake tears and grating acceptance peeches. Showbiz is the name of the game isn’t it? This one knows how to put on a show.
STORY: WILFRED OKICHE and culled from Nolly Silver Screen Magazine