By Ogova Ondego
Published January 16, 2014
As the deadline for submitting films to the 10th Africa Movie Academy Awards (AMAA) passed on January 15, 2014, film journalists and critics were asking themselves whether Kenyans had what it takes to excel in Africa’s version of the Oscars.
Kenya’s best AMAA year was 2009 when Wanuri Kahiu’s FROM A WHISPER docu-drama based on the terrorist bombing of the USA embassy in Nairobi received 13 nominations and went on to win five of them: the Best Picture, the Best Director, the Best Screenplay, the Best Original Soundtrack,and the Best Editing.
That year, Judy Kibinge’s COMING OF AGE on the development of political pluralism in Kenya was declared the Best Short Documentary. It was also in 2009 that Lola Kenya Screen’s child-made LITTLE KNOWLEDGE IS DANGEROUS, MANANI OGRES and CHEPRONO were nominated for the Best Short Animation just as youth-made SANTOS THE SURVIVOR was included in the Best Short Documentary nomination category whose winner was Kibinge’s COMING OF AGE.
Competing in the Best Short Film category at that time was PAMELA family drama by James Kanja.
But, sadly, the strong Kenyan presence and wins in 2009 has been overshadowed by some lacklustre performance from which eastern Africa’s film powerhouse is yet to recover.
Kenya’s TOGETHERNESS SUPREME won the Best Performance by a Child Actor and Most Promising Actor awards in 2010 as SOUL BOY walked away with Achievement in Editing in 2011.
Come 2012, THE LEGEND OF NGONG HILLS by Kwame Nyong’o won the Best Animation award as SHATTERED won Achievement in Make-Up.
NAIROBI HALF LIFE took the Best Sound and shared the Most Promising Actor award with Nigeria in 2013.
So far, the only actors from Kenya to have won an AMAA statuette since 2005 are Joseph Wairimu, Wilson Maina, Teddy Onyango and Bill Oloo.
What surprises does the 10th anniversary AMA Awards hold in store for Kenya? Will Kenya’s warriors—Mwendwa Mutua, Ian Kithinji, Joan Kabugu, Grace Irungu, Cajetan Boy, Alexandros Konstantaras, Eric Maina Mwangi, Beryl Magoko, Bill Jones, Deejay Msalaba and Godwin Otwoma—repeat Wanuri Kahiu’s 2009 winning streak?