Lessons from Nollywood film sector

Tafadzwa Zimoyo in Nigeria—
Art influences society by changing opinions, values and translating experiences across space and time. Films and movies are channels of mass communication which have grown over the years. Film-making is growing in many parts of Africa, but Nigerians seem to be advancing at a faster pace than other countries on the continent. Looking at how Nigerians embrace, respect, support and appreciate their art from music and film, one could be green with envy because they are on top of the game.

Their film industry is known as Nollywood and it is widely accepted that they are the Hollywood of Africa. The themes they pursue in their films are close to reality and they also have good imagination.

And the filmmakers, actresses and actors were rightly awarded at the Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards (AMVCA) at the Eko Hotel in Nigeria where some of the top African actors, producers, directors and film-makers among others gathered for the glitz and glamour show.

The awards are dubbed the African Oscars because of their prestige and celebrating the African actors, directors and producers. The question on everyone lips is: which African filmmakers are the best? Are they from Nigeria, South Africa, Ghana or Uganda?

It is like a village of art where everything starts and end on one place. Imagine having more than six live television red carpets posts as you walk past the red carpet where each area is styled and you get interviewed by different show presenters.

In fact the red carpet is long to the extent of taking about 30 minutes before you go in the auditorium.

One thing to be respected for is the platform to shine and rub shoulders with legends and great actors on the long red carpet. When it comes to fashion and make-up, everyone will be on point because they know there are cameras everywhere. People are not allowed to move around during the live broadcast and they can only do so during commercial breaks.

They also have a back-up round of applause which the production team can play while those at home will think everyone is clapping. That is what we don’t see on most television stations. The biggest secret that many do not know about hosts is that they will be reading a big screen behind the audience which they only can see and you think they are looking at the crowd.

No wonder why we always thought they are brilliant and intelligent with no papers, reciting everything live just like news readers. Even those who will be presenting awards too have time allocation to talk on stage and be guided and they don’t share whatever joke or statement, they have a script to follow.

The organisers of the show said they also work on the colour code of presenters’ dressing to work well with their lightning. And they have a plan to make everyone mix and meet after the show.

They host an after-party where those invited, including the who’s and who in African film and television, can mingle with other stars and journalist before a winners’ Press conference.

There is an hour of winners’ press conference.

By the way, the whole show is scripted and time conscious. The show starts at 4pm and ends 10:30pm, with everything accommodated in that period. They only focus on big artists during live broadcasting and those upcoming stars are given their slots during commercial breaks. We do not see such planning at our own live broadcasts.

But AMVCA also faced some glitches from sounding to security arrangement. Eko Hotel is about the good lighting and all, but the venue is too small although they know all the invited guests and make sure everyone sits well. Again another factor is of resources and sponsors.

For Nigeria it is easy since many flock to assist but they said in the past 10 years it was not easy. It is also that they make movies everyday and they promote each other as the movies are also sold in streets. They have a place like Hollywood where some of the action takes place.

That mentioned village helps them to grow and each month they release a new actor, support him or her to the top.

Gone are the days when we have same faces on screen.

Some disputed that the show is only focusing on Nigeria, Ghana and South Africa. It could be right and wrong at the same time because it is about submission of entries. Some people said other countries shun the awards because of voting system while others said it is not true because it is a matter of quality and quantity. On voting, since Nigeria has the highest population, it is always the factor too.

Surprisingly, a lot of countries are producing quality stuff but it is a matter of ignorance or not knowing the procedures. But how far true is that statement?

In an interview, M-Net/Africa Magic regional director Wangi Mba- Uzoukwu said the awards are Pan-African. “We try to accommodate everyone and every country. Expose your stars and we give them the platform. “We have recently launched the Zambezi Magic channel where a lot has been happening if you notice.

“We want to be represented as much as possible. We encourage other countries to submit their entries and next year we will start with creating awareness campaigns and go to regions to have stakeholders engagement and to empower them.

“Africa Magic is for Africa not Nigeria only,” she said. Asked why everything seems to happen in Nigeria, managing director for Multichoice Nigeria John Ugbe said it is a misconception. “It is about location and space. Recently the CNN awards were held in Kenya and Tanzania. “I have been to Zimbabwe several times and it is a beautiful country, talented with arts.

“We try to balance all countries even if you check well on our presenters,” he said. Ugbe, who is also into fashion, said art and fashion should not be separated as they go hand in hand.

Chief Executive Officer for MNet Yolisa Phahle she said was happy how art is growing in Africa. “Art is developing by day and we are happy with how Africans are responding. “We have judges who select the entries for categories then adjudicators who come up with the final list.

“Those nominated can be voted for. We try by all means accommodate every country and we are happy with the responses so far,” she said. Zimbabwean star based in South Africa Memory Savanhu, who of late made headlines in Nollywood with her hit movie “Cougars”, supported the notion that we should support each other.

During the awards presentation she began with the line,” Makadini Zimbabwe welcome you to AMVCA,” She said she did it deliberately because this is an African show hence all languages should get space. Savanhu said acting is about passion.

Award-winning actors like Ramsey Noah, John Okfar (Mr Ibu) and Desmond Elliot among others said they have heard a lot about Zimbabwe and wish to visit the country.

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