For one night, Africa came together to celebrate films and witness the glamour of its movie industry as some of the best within and outside the sector gathered at EKO Hotel, Lagos.

The 2018 Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards (AMVCA) brought with it culture-defining moments and arguments – from the commentary and criticism of the award’s nominations to fashion choices, music and eventual winners.

Although the AMVCA isn’t the Golden Globes or Oscars, it still held its own as a well-produced show – a truly remarkable achievement for an event hosted in Nigeria where quality is often sacrificed on the altar of  ‘lets manage it.’

While most of the event’s guests were still indulging in the predictable, but totally understandable, red carpet/Instagram frenzy, the AMVCA started right on time as promised by the organisers, setting a new standard in a country where ‘African time’ is a norm and lateness is quite fashionable and easily forgiven.

Lagos’ social scene is known for being quite snobby and diva-ish, addled by an overestimation of one’s celebrity and importance, hence social events tend to begin late and guests leave early as everyone tries to mystify themselves or show-off.

Somehow, this didn’t happen at AMVCA. The hall was filled up and stayed so till the very end – thankfully, too, the show’s organisers had a deep respect and value for time and kept to it.

Hosts, IK Osakioduwa and Minnie Dlamini-Jones, were charming and sweet. As the event progressed, Dlamini-Jones, a South African, wearing a gele announced that it was her first time donning the headscarf.

Osakioduwa, on the other hand, aroused the crowd with his wisecracks, flirtations and quips – even if he did, somehow, manage to overstep, displaying a sexist and misogynistic ideation with his poorly thought-out and disrespectful commentary about Falz’s female backup dancers, dismissing them as ‘irresponsible girls’.

For music performance, Adekunle Gold delivered but didn’t stir the crowd much; Falz made an effort but his performance wasn’t a home run – or anything close to that – either.

Bisola, singing Evanescence’s hit song ‘Immortal’, appeared to be playing hide and seek with the song’s high notes, marring an otherwise brilliant rendition. Omo Bello and the accompanying orchestra stirred the crowd into a trance, her soprano vibrating through the walls, twirling through the air like loose fine sand. Cobhams Asuquo was at his finest: funny, entertaining, captivating and delightful.

Perhaps, most importantly, the AMVCA was an opportunity to introduce little-known films and filmmakers from other African continents, an opportunity for cross-continental collaborations and to promote films to new audiences – particularly to Nigerians who are often uninterested in and uneducated about cultural products from other African countries.

While, of course, one may not agree with the movies nominated for this year’s award (particularly Alter Ego, which is quite terrible both in acting and directing) and those that won, the AMVCAs was truly a well-done show, bringing with it all the ruckus and fanfare one expects from an event of its kind.

Still, the event offered a curious question on what qualifies as good art, how to reward and celebrate it: become the biggest winner of the night as in the ridiculous Tatu, or be conveniently short-changed as in Ojukokoro and Isoken. One begins to wonder how the jury for this award show made their decisions.

Despite its shortcomings, the AMVCA has its upside too as it emboldened and recognised young filmmakers, and celebrated art without being too overly pretentious, exclusive and unnecessarily profound – factors that often make work of arts inaccessible, pushing their audiences away.



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