Participants of the annual Lola Kenya screen skill development programmes have had a chance to travel to Nigeria after four of their films made during the 2007 and 2008 festivals got nominated at the Africa Movie Academy Awards (AMAA).
The event which took place in Bayelsa state, attracted participants from all over the continent, bringing together actors, actresses, directors and producers to interact and exchange ideas about the African film industry. The Kenyan delegation was unique in that it was the only delegation comprising the youngest film directors.
After five hours of flying the nominees touched down at Murtala Muhammed international airport at eleven o’clock Nigerian time and had to put up with the ever hot Nigerian climate. However, they were delighted as the vans to transport them to where they would stay for the next two days were readily available. The journey from the airport to the hotel seemed to last for long as Lagos is highly populated and traffic jams on the roads is common.
The perception one would receive from the welcome that the nominees received would be that the event was going to be one of the best events.
The stay at Eko Suites in Lagos was quite good as the hotel had most of the recreational facilities that one would wish for. Children enjoyed this venue as they would go swimming, play either table tennis or volley ball and stay indoors to watch films and other child friendly programmes.
On Friday as they left Lagos to Port Harcourt before connecting to Bayelsa in the southern part of Nigeria, they hoped that this venue would be as interesting as the hotel they had been staying in earlier on. But things were never to be the same.
After a long road journey they finally stopped at Latik hotels where they would remain until the ceremony took place on April 4, 2009. From the outside it was just one of the hotels that one would want to stay in. But true to the adage that never judge a book by its cover, the workers of the hotel seemed not to know how well to treat their guests.
The children who were happy to have left Lagos and have a feel of how Bayelsa was like, were extremely unhappy because even after placing several food orders they never got to eat any meal from this hotel and had to eat bread and juice bought from the near by shops.
After long hours of boredom the moment that everyone had waited for finally came. It all started with a red carpet welcome, lots of entertainment and speeches from the executive governor of the Bayelsa state, chief Timpire Sylva.
As predicted by some of the Nigerian media houses Kenya was set to humiliate the Nigerian filmmakers and bag most of the awards and perhaps the top prize. And the predictions came true as the Night saw Kenyans walk away with six statuettes,
FROM A WHISPER, a film written and directed by Wanuri Kahiu, bagged five of the prizes while Judy Kibinge’s COMING OF AGE took the best short documentary award.
Although having been able to stand well along other films made by professionals, the Lola Kenya Children’s Screen’s productions “LITTLE KNOWLEDGE IS DANGEROUS, MANANI OGRES, CHEPRONO” did not win the Best Animation award they had been nominated for. Lola Kenya Screen’s other production, SANTOS THE SURVIVOR, also failed to win the Best Short Documentary award for which it had been nominated. But then, noted Ogova Ondego, the Lola Kenya Screen founder and director who also produces this eastern Africa’s audiovisual media initiative for children and youth, “our films are made by children aged 6-14 years over a four-day period and on zero-budget; the fact that they were nominated to compete against those made by adult professionals with well defined production schedules and budgets show that our children are winners; bagging the statuettes would have been a bonus”.
Ondego, however, promised that “the Lola Kenya Screen children will in 2010 exact their sweet revenge on those adults who denied our 7-year-old director, Crystal Ndolo, the chance to go on stage to receive an AMAA prize in 2009”.
But the faces of all the Kenya children were still painted with happiness as they were part of a team that had left many dismayed after clinching most awards. Although everything seemed to be fine, nominees of the best short film kept wondering why their category could not be awarded.
The academy jury chair, Ayoku Babu, reading their report, said: “The Jury also wishes to highlight that the documentaries nominated this year were of very high quality and marked a major improvement compared to previous editions: indeed the Jury found their examination of the relationship between subject and the filmmaker fascinating and thought provoking. However when it came to the short film category we found that improvement was needed. For this reason, we decided not to award a prize this time around.”
After a week-long stay in Nigeria, most people seemed to be delighted to board the plane back to their respective countries. But everyone seems to have a question to the hospitality persons.
The full list of AMAA 2009 Awardees:
BEST DOCUMENTARY (SHORT SUBJECT)
Coming of Age (Kenya)
BEST DOCUMENTARY (FEATURE)
For the Best and for the Onion (Niger)
Malcom’s Echo- Dami Akinnusi (USA/Nigeria)
Kono (Burkina Faso)
AMAA ACHIEVEMENT IN SOUND
Seventh Heaven (Egypt)
AMAA ACHIEVEMENT IN EDITING
From a Whisper (Kenya)
AMAA ACHIEVEMENT IN ART DIRECTION
Small Boy- Michelle Bello (Nigeria)
AMAA ACHIEVEMENT IN MAKE-UP
Live to Remember (Nigeria)
AMAA ACHIEVEMENT IN VISUAL EFFECT
Battle of the Souls (Uganda)
Best ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK
From a whisper (Kenya)
BEST PERFORMANCE BY A CHILD ACTOR
Richard Chukwuma – Small Boy (Nigeria)
MOST PROMISING ACTOR
Litha Booi , Gugu and Andile (South Africa)
MOST PROMISING ACTRESS
Lungelo Dhladha – Gugu and Andile (South Africa)
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Joel Okuyo Prynce – Battle of the Soul (Uganda)
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Mercy Johnson -Live to Remember (Nigeria)
BEST FILM IN AFRICAN LANGUAGE
Gugu and Andile – South Africa
HEART OF AFRICA AWARD (renamed on the spot as ‘GOOD PEOPLE GREAT NATION’) FOR BEST FILM FROM NIGERIA
Arugba – Tunde Kelani (Nigeria).
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
Farouk Alfishawi -Seventh Heaven (Egypt).
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
Funke Akindele – Jenifa (Nigeria).
From a Whisper – Wanuri Kahiu (Kenya)
AMAA ACHIEVEMENT IN CINEMATOGRAPHY
Cindy’s Note – Izu Ojukwu (Nigeria).
Wanuri Kahiu – From a Whisper (Kenya)
From a Whisper (Kenya)