AMVCA: The Rise of New Media and Demand for Recognition

 Funke Akindele-Bello poses with her award

For many filmmakers, the recognition of their peers and fans in the form of awards are the highest forms of aspirations, with what we saw at the 7th Africa Magic Viewer's Choice Award, it is safe to say the best part of a filmmakers life is the moment she or he is honoured. Most especially if such is coming from a reputable organization. Globally, aside from peer and fan recognition,  how  much positive economic impact a movie awards can have on a film and general entertainment are a big deal. Statistically, an academy award, has been known to increase a films revenue by at least 25 million dollars.

DSTV's Africa Magic honoured movies released in 2019, at the AMVCA. It wasn't the golden statue that got Beverly Naya emotional, receiving an AMVCA significe most importantly, that those sleepless nights, the uncompromising stance and sacrifices, all crew efforts, were worth it.

The bulk of Africa's young individual filmmakers result to pushing their content online (a huge emerging market), imagine such having a taste of nomination. Especially in a protruding African cinema. As it where, it isn't today. Things keep changing, The AMVCA itself introduces new categories every year, its therefore pertinent to review. The Canneseries festival, The Oscars, Golden Globe Awards, Indie Series Awards, New York Web Series Festival etc, have created new categories for emerging film styles. Such as best animated, best web series, best writer adapted etc.

Toyin Abraham at the AMVCA

Award Ceremonies in Africa

The motivation behind awards on filmmakers can't  be over emphasized in the growth of Nollywood box office numbers. There are more than a hundred award ceremonies on the continent of Africa, with over a thousand award categories. The African Movie Awards Academy (AMAA), commenced 2005, it is considered the most prestigious motion picture award in Africa. The AMAA rewards excellence amongst movie professionals working in African and abroad, who have contributed to the African film industry. It closest in reputatione is Africa Magic Viewers' Choice Awards (AMVCA), an annual accolade presented by Multichoice, recognizing outstanding achievement in television and film.

There are country focused award ceremonies like The South African Film and Television Awards (SAFTAs) or the Golden Horns, an annual award ceremony for South Africans, hosted by the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF).

Ghana Film Awards (GFA) for Ghanaian films, Nollywood Movie Award (NMA), City People Magazine Award, Best Of Nollywood (BON) for Nigerian films. So far none of these have a category for web series.

According to a pulse article, "Awards do not matter until they are made to matter. They are ego boosting events created to sell fashion and maybe, social consciousness. But at the base of all these, they were created for conversation and audience priming. Neither of which Nollywood or African awards are doing". 

Innocent 2Baba (2Face) Idibia at the AMVCA

On February 6, 2020, AMVCA nominations were announced for the 7th edition. Again young web series makers looked frustrated. Also worthy of discussion is that out of the 28 award categories, only seven were open to public voting (as was the previous years). The remaining 21 decided by a panel led by Femi Odugbemi.

No doubt panels are important, but as a result some opinion hold that, "the AMVCA is branded a viewers choice award but has failed in drawing and building a film community that is allowed to make a choice". This could potentially entice an audience of cinema goers who would wish to make an informed decision on their vote by watching those nominated films and perhaps have a positive effect on box office takings, particularly supporting Nollywood films at the cinema.

It could in turn encourage filmmakers to focus more on quality productions as an award nomination and win could boost their box office takings.

The highly anticipated categories for the night are were best movie (West Africa), best actor, actress, director and overall best movie. The anticipated sequel to the 1992 Nollywood classic, Living in Bondage: Breaking Free’, received ten nominations and secured seven awards including Best Overall Movie and Best Director which went to Nollywood legend, Ramsey Nouah. Timini Egbuson won Best Actor in a Drama whilst Toyin Abraham won the Best Actress in a Drama, both for their performances in the 'Elevator Baby'. [full list]. One of the biggest snubs of the night was 'King of Boys', who had  no  win again after being completely left out of nominations last year.

The Rise of New Media and Demand for Recognition
Web stream media has become a huge area of interest as an alternative distribution medium for African filmmakers, just as in the west. Online content consumption is in high demand as seen with the popularity of Netflix and other SVODs [The Guardian].

In 2018, the number of digital video viewers in the United States amounted to 228.8 million viewers [Statista]. This figure is projected to reach 248.9 million in 2022. The world usage of online streaming is on the rise giving numerous popular platforms like YouTube freemium access to all users.

The worlds biggest film festivals de Cannes, in 2018, selected Indian web series ''ImMATURE" amongst it first edition of the Cannes International Series Festival (Canneseries). Cannes selects series from all over the world, to give an international voice to this increasingly popular new form of art.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences states that to be eligible for an Oscar a film must play in cinemas, and cannot run on TV or a streaming platform, before its theatrical debut. To honour web series talents, a similar rule might be applicable by African award organizers to encourage the new art.

Mercy Aigbe at the AMVCA

For instance the seventh edition of the Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards (AMVCA) 2020 that held last week Saturday, had a special award category for Best Dressed Male and Female.  This is in recognition of the best dressed guests on the red carpet. One would hope as the panel recognizes the sartorial choices of the awards attendees, that they would begin to introduce emerging trend categories for films and series such as best web series in 2021.


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