BY ANDREW OKE
The most uneventful film event in Africa has come and gone once again, and most did not believe that it would be possible for the Africa Movie Academy Awards to sink further down into its personal pit of mediocrity and disappointment, but once again AMAA Awards have managed to surprise us all and do exactly that.
It is sad that AMAA conspires to ruin all of its own hard work by returning to abject sloppiness year after year. It is sad because, when you speak with Nollywood insiders, many feel that AMAA is a better representation of the industry, way better than the AMVCAs. The AMVCAs are often accused of a distancing from core Nollywood that bothers on arrogance. It is also said that AMAA Awards jury is more competent and more forthright in its selections and eventual choice of winners. Sadly, whatever good all of this offers, the organisers ensure that, come awards night, ruin must be brought upon the brand.
With eleven years of experience, and sponsorship from government that must be in hundreds of millions, if not billions now, it is expected that the organisers and those behind the scenes at AMAA Awards would have understood by now that the purpose of award shows is primarily to reward excellence in the film industry and not a platform for lengthy, drawn out, excitement stifling speeches. Award shows are long and most times dull, so boring your audience at the Award ceremony and at home right off the bat is never a great start. The first award of the night was handed out well over an hour into the show, and if that is not a testament to the ineptitude of the show’s organisers, I don’t know what is.
There was a confusing incident with a crocodile, but I’ll just pretend that didn’t happen and move right along to the award presentation. When the awards finally started getting handed out, everything, for a brief moment, seemed to be going fine except for the occasional typographical error which I suspect most people did not notice seeing as the first hour of the show had already put them to sleep. The film The Cursed One apparently won the “Best Best Production Award” and someone obviously gave up on spelling Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Tony Akposhere’s last name, because he was referred to as just “Tony”. Every winner on the night was fully deserving of his or her award and thankfully the recipients kept their acceptance speeches relatively short. Like I said, everything seemed to be going fine, that is, until the AMAAs decided to outdo itself and the power at the venue went out. This blackout lasted almost an hour. At what is referred to by some as Africa’s most prestigious film Award ceremony, the power went out for almost an hour. For almost an hour, the entire venue filled with industry big shots from all over the continent was in complete darkness. And I thought the confusing crocodile was shameful.
When something as astronomical as a near hour-long power outage occurs at an award show, I believe it is safe to say that said award show has, for lack of a better word, failed. It doesn’t matter what happened before or after the lights went out. It doesn’t matter if the Almighty came down from heaven and endorsed the award show. If something like that happens, that is all that show will be remembered for.
It is a shame that AMAA Awards, which is supposed to be the premier and most prestigious award ceremony on the continent, has on its own reduced itself to an annual cautionary tale on how NOT to organise an award ceremony. I find the rate of degradation in the quality and credibility of AMAA Awards increasingly unsettling. Every year, fewer people pay attention to it and an award cannot truly claim to be prestigious if no one cares about it. Would the Academy Awards be what it is today if no one bothered to watch it or cared who won what? Would the AMVCAs be as popular as it is today if it suffered hour-long power outages?
In case the people behind AMAA Awards don’t know it yet, their award show is on the verge of becoming obsolete and surplus to requirements. The likes of the AMVCAs has come into the picture and shown the public that decent award ceremonies can, in fact, be conducted in Nigeria. Even though I have my reservations about the AMVCAs, it is clear that it is far ahead of the AMAAs in almost every conceivable way. If the AMAA organisers don’t fix up and shape up fast, ten years from now, no one will care about the award and the AMAA will become a distant sad memory.