It was a big event, and as always those who are truly deserving of the awards were recognized. Frank Raja Arase won the Best Art Director Award for the film The Refugees, Best Director by Akin Omotosho for Tell Me Sweet Something, Best Makeup Artist in a series by Louiza Calore for Ayanda, the Best Lighting Designer (Movies/TV) award Stanley Ohikhuare for Common Man and the Best Cinematographer won by Paul Michaelson for Tell Me Sweet Something. Still on awards for people who worked off the camera on major film projects, Jose Guillermo won Best Sound Editor award for the film Cry, while Best Picture Editor award was taken home by Ghanaian Shirley Frimpong-Manso for Rebeca; Best Costume Designer was won by Uche Nancy for Dry while the best award of the night as far as we are concerned (i.e. the award for Best Writer for Movie and TV series) was won by Trish Malone for the series Ayanda.
For the actors, big winners include Adesua Etomi who won Best Actress in A Movie/Drama/TV for her role in Falling with Daniel K. Daniel winning in the best Actor Category for A Soldier’s Story. Best Actress in a Comedy was won by Funke Akindele for Jenifa’s Diary with her onscreen boyfriend in the same TV series Folarin Falana winning Best Actor. Best Supporting Actress was won by Tunbosun Aiyedihin for Before 30 while Sambassa Nzeribe won Best Supporting Actor for the film A Soldier’s Story. Emerging actress Kemi Akindoju won the highly coveted Trail Blazer Award for 2016.
Moving on, the Best Documentary award went to Remi Vaughn for Faaji Agba and Best Movie (Southern Africa) went to Joyce Chavura for Lilongwe. In the same vein, the Best Movie award (East Africa) went to Elizabeth Miachael for Mapenzi and the Best Movie (West Africa) went to Genevieve Nnaji and Chinny Onwugbenu for Road to Yesterday. There was no award for a film from North Africa. The Overall Best Movie award however went to Stephanie Linus for Dry.
There were other categories and a number of merit awards given. We shall now look forward to next year’s ceremony.
For your overview, here is the list of winners in a glance:
– Industry Merit Award : Bukky Ajayi & Sadiq Daba— Best Overall Movie for Dry: Stephanie Linus :
– Best Director: Akin Omotosho
– Best Actor in a Drama : Daniel K Daniel :
– Best Actress in a Drama (Falling): Adesua Etomi :
– Best Movie – West African (Road to Yesterday):Chinny Onwugbenu, Genevieve Nnaji, Chichi Nwoko
–Best Sound Editor, Marquex Jose Guillermo
– Best Movie – East African: Elizabeth Michael :
– Best Movie – Southern Africa: Joyce Mhango Chavula :
– Trailblazer award : Kemi Lala Akindoju.
– Best Actress in a Comedy (Jenifa’s Diary): Funke Akindele :
– Best Actor in a Comedy : Folarin Falana
– Best Cinematographer award: Paul Michaelson:
– Best Supporting Actress – Tunbosun Aiyedehin (Before 30)
– Best Supporting Actor – A Soldier’s Story – Sambassa Nzeribe
– Best Documentary:Remi Vaughan-Richards
– Best Indigenous Language Movie/TV Series – Usekwu Igbo – Paul Igwe
– Best Indigenous Language Movie (Yoruba) – Binta Ofege : Abiodun Jimoh and Jumoke Odetola
– The AMVCA 2016 for Best Local Language – Hausa: Salisu Balarabe :
–Best Indigenous Language Series or Movie (Swahili) – Kitendawili – Josephat Lukaza
– Best Costume Designer for ‘Dry’: Uche Nancy
– Best Picture Editor award: Shirley Frimpong-Manso
– Best Lighting: Stanlee Ohikhuare
– Best Drama Writer: Trish Malone
– Best Short Film or Online Video: Oluseyi Amuwa
– Best Make-Up for her work on “Ayanda”: Louiza Calore
Yvonne Nelson [the Ghanaian actress] has always been a special one. But this morning she is endearing herself to fans on a whole new level. The beautiful one posted a series of Snapchat videos to her Instagram page in which she displayed all kinds of funny characters to herself. According to her, she was stuck in traffic; something that happened all the time if you drive African roads though. Anyway, she decided to make the most of the stuck-up situation and now people are laughing out loud all thanks to her.
In one of the videos Yvonne is seen crying copious tears, apparently frustrated inside her car. The tears forms a river with golden fish and other water stuff (lol). She then stopped crying and smiles to the camera even as the tears stopp flowing only for her to start again on a whole new level of “tearfulness“. Funny stuff; I lolED so hard!
Please Check her Instagram page and watch the videos in order to understand what I mean…
Meanwhile another Nollywood actress interacting with her fans this morning is Kate Henshaw Nuttal. She has posted some clips of herself in a gym whooping that body of hers into shape. This is something she does every single morning by the way. No wonder she glows always in that killer body of hers.
Netflix has launched in Nigeria and across many other African countries, and already it has seen impressive reception by a wide audience of film lovers in the country who have long been lovers of the subscription-based video streaming company.
Ventures Africa reports that this is a welcome development for Nollywood because Netflix “might begin streaming more African content”, thereby providing the needful visibility for Nollywood films to be portrayed to a wider global audience. Netflix boast 69.17 million active subscribers from across the world, and has often been regarded as the biggest cinema conglomerate in the world.
Telecoms giant Etisalat has already become the first among its competitors to provide Netflix services to Nigerians with a subscription package called VideoPak. People can enjoy two hours of uninterrupted, ad-free online TV moments with just 400 naira.
CHRISTINE LAGARDE MEETS WITH NIGERIAN FEMALE CELEBRITIES, EXECUTIVE WOMEN
The Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund Christine Lagarde was in Nigeria for four days on a working visit during which time she met up with a number of high-powered women in the country. Talk show hostess and founder Ebony Live TV Mo Abudu first posted a picture of her and the IMF boss alongside Nigeria’s Finance Minister on Instagram, writing that “it was in a bid to see how we as women, ALL women can help each other achieve our desired goals.”
Meanwhile Nigerian actress and business woman Genevieve Nnaji also met with Ms. Lagarde. She first Instagrammed a picture of herself dressed in a luxury suit which she captioned “#day1 with the madam.” She then posted more pictures one of which has her posed with the French woman with both of them dressed in beautiful gowns. Ms. Nnaji said that she was honoured to be in the same room “with strong, inspiring and impactful women.”
Nairaland reports that the actress attended the event in honour of Christine Lagarde alongside other business-savvy Nigerian women. It doubled as a dinner and a business event of some sort.
FIRST 2016 NOLLYWOOD FILM SET TO PREMIER
Nollywood has begun on a good note this 2016 with an interesting film set to hit cinemas soon. The film under review is Elephant in the Room, a romantic comedy starring Ramsey Nouah who also doubles as the executive producer. The film tells the story of an aging man with lots of money whose life changes upon a chance encounter with a desperate young woman who is in search of a job after relocation from Europe.
Elephant in the Room stares a former Big Brother Africa house mate Zainab Sheriff, and it is set to premier on cinemas across Nigeria such as Film House Cinema today January 8th, 2016.
Ramsey Nouah has noted that the film was shot in Sierra Leon and that he had immense fun executive-producing it. Let’s hope the film doesn’t disappoint expectations. It should be noted that this is Mr. Nouah’s first time executive-producing a Nollywood film.
Meanwhile, also set to screen on January 8th and 9th as in Accra is Shampaign, a political action drama series set in Ghana and featuring some of West Africa’s best actors. Some of the stars in the TV series [including Blossom ChukwuJekwu and Joslyn Dumas] have been promoting the show on Instagram by posting interesting sneak peeks as well as headlining promotional events.
The series was created by Shirley Frimpong-Manso and produced by Sparrow Entertainment. According to http://www.moviemarkers.net, “the political drama series follows the lives of a young political campaign team who work tirelessly to make political history by getting a single mother elected as the first female president of the country while dealing with their own personal demons.”
I came off the hustle and bustle of Lagos streets into the cool ambience of a posh restaurant, the venue of my scheduled interview with a budding actor. And as my eyes scanned through the place, I quickly spotted him seated alone on a table. He was sipping a drink while flipping through the pages of a newspaper. I hurried over, apologizing profusely; my tardiness! It was the traffic, I explained as I took my seat right opposite him and we proceeded to discuss a whole lot of issues ranging from his acting career and Nollywood in general.
Paul Utomi! Just in case you never knew, he is a major industry player in Nigeria’s Nollywood although he wouldn’t just agree to that. “I honestly don’t think I am” he told me humbly when I mentioned how famous he is. But indeed he’s famous even though he’s been acting professionally for not more than five years. Within this rather short timeframe Paul has featured in a number of productions including O-TOWN, APOSTATES and +234. I asked him if he always set out to become the actor that he is today and his immediate response was a split seconds of thoughtful sigh. “I’m not sure” he said. “But then I can’t think of anything else I’d rather be doing at the moment.”
E. Benson: Really? But you studied Economics at one of Nigeria’s best universities. You could have made a fine banker for instance…
Paul Utomi: Yeah. I studied Economics. But I realized early on that I was drawn to the magic of movies and I am happy to have pursued that dream. Today I am grateful for the opportunity to be able to thrill audiences.
And thrilling audiences is truly one thing I’m sure he does best. His acting is captivating; pure talent merged with passion. But how is his life as an actor, I asked, and then he flattered me with one of his quick responses- “It’s a constant hustle to get jobs” he said. To this I laughed because Paul Utomi has featured in quite a number of Nollywood productions. This could only mean that his hustles must have paid very well indeed! Yet while this may be the case, Paul reiterated that the journey to the top is never easy. For the benefit of young [aspiring] actors and writers hoping to have their break into the industry, he said it’s never an easy feat. But that is not to imply impossibility:
“I’m still trying to overcome the challenges I face as an actor. It’s more like an ongoing journey; you will have to work as hard as you can, constantly improving and honing your craft… You may also probably have to get used to being disappointed ever so often”.
Away from his acting career for a while, I asked Paul to appraise Nollywood. And without disappointing, he was as objective as I’d expected. It is an industry constantly evolving, he said. And while he is not one of those that would spend time reminiscing about the supposed good old times the industry had seen, he never hesitated to candidly remind me that “for you to have a clear idea of where you are going, you need to remember/acknowledge where you are coming from…” I also wanted to know if he is one of those advocates of New Nollywood. And to this he responded:
“Well not quite. The only constant thing in life is change. Even the cinematic techniques in Hollywood are always evolving. Same goes for Bollywood and France/Europe. I don’t know about labels and labeling; but art is art. And all forms of visual expressions can coexist side by side and even burrow from each other”.
Moving on, our conversation soon shifted to Paul’s career and personal life. I asked him to pick out the best production he has ever been a part of, and of course it was a difficult thing to do. Instead he told me that all of his work has been unique with their special challenges, but most of all have all meant for learning experiences.
E. Benson: So has your craft brought immense financial success your way?
Paul Utomi: Hahaha… Hardly! We’re still hustling, bro. The industry still has a long way to go.
E. Benson: Really? But the general perception of you celebs is that y’all are quite monied.
Paul Utomi: Hmmmmm. Perception isn’t always reality.
And he was right; the perspective that Nigerian celebrities are money-spinners is false. But then this is not to say that Paul is broke. He has a penchant for being humbled, I noticed. And that’s equally a good attribute which must have contributed to making him the star that he is today. So in the face of his fame, how does he deal with excessive admiration from the girls? “Hahahaha” came his immediate reply. Yea he laughs quite a lot too. “I haven’t actually experienced it, boss” he said , referring to excessive admiration from them ladies. And even though I’m certain he might have chosen to tactfully evade the question, I agreed with him and proceeded to ask him about the most pricey gift acting has given him yet.
Paul Utomi: Hmmmm… Probably opening my eyes to how imperfect/fallible I am as a person. It has also helped me in my little understanding of the human condition.
E. Benson: Would you ever quite the profession?
Paul Utomi: Well I don’t know; life’s a funny thing. But…I don’t think so.
E. Benson: Okay. So on a last note, is there someone in the industry whom you admire their professionalism? Would you consider producing your own film someday?
Paul Utomi: There are a few people… Hopefully; it’s an industry we all want to see grow.
E. Benson: So would you date a fellow celebrity or anybody your heart calls out to?
Paul Utomi: Hahaha… Yeah, I would date a fellow celebrity or anyone my heart calls out to.
E. Benson: Well then…it’s been very nice having this sit down with you, Sir. Thank you so much for your time. And do permit me another interview when next I call on you.
The 2015 Africa International Film Festival is currently ongoing, and as usual it has been a display of a wide array of talents in the African cinema scene. In a statement released on AFRIFF website prior to the commencement of the 2015 festival, the organization’s Artistic Director (Keith Shiri) noted a number of films scheduled for screening. Interestingly, most of these films have been submitted from across Africa and beyond thereby attesting to how far African cinema has evolved, and specifically how good film-making in Nigeria has become. After all there was a time when the phenomenon of “two weeks production” reached immense crescendo and almost made Nollywood synonymous with mediocrity; thank goodness for the new Nollywood agenda pioneered by a crop of actors and filmmakers who got fed up with the norm.
This year’s entries are indeed an impressive lineup. From C.J. ‘Fiery’ Obasi’s “O-Town” to Christopher R. Miles’ “Sleeper”, the selected entries exemplify both the diversity of the festival, its global scope as well as the quality of filmmaking. Meanwhile, a notable thing is the fact that indigenous African films and specifically those produced by Nigeria’s Nollywood dominate the list. Indeed, it is a testament to how far Nollywood has come over the years; for who could have envisaged that a festival celebrating African [Nigerian] cinema would someday generate so much global interest!
Three of the selected Nigerian feature films have been getting special reviews due to how simply special they are. Ishaya Bako’s “Road to Yesterday” stars Geneviève Nnaji who is undoubtedly one of Nigeria’s best actors of all times. But [perhaps] what makes the film incredible is in the storyline instead of the cast list. Available trailers and press reviews reveal that the tale centers primarily on the lives of the two main characters Izu and Victoria (played by Oris Erhuerho and Ms. Nnaji as they struggle to salvage their troubled marriage. Unfortunately, a proposed road trip to their relative’s funeral as a means to enable them sort out their differences only complicates their problems as deep secrets from their past are unraveled and now threatens more than their matrimony… This film highlights new Nollywood both in the strength of the story telling and the quality of production. Little wonder it made the AFRIFF final selection and has even been earmarked to screen at the final event marking this year’s festival. Similarly, “While You Slept”, a film by Desmond Elliot demonstrates Nollywood at its best. It highlights the plight of a young widow following her husband’s demise and the discovery of his infidelity. The story touches on a number of topical issues including women’s right in Nigeria, especially to their dead husbands’ properties as well as other issues like betrayal and the agony of mental illness. The film was released a long time ago to Nigerian cinemas but has managed to easily make the AFRIFF selection owing largely to its excellent storyline and production.
Meanwhile, C.J. Fiery Obasi’s “O-Town” has long been generating interest among film lovers across Nigeria ever since its existence was made known. And following its premier on November 9th during the opening ceremonies of the festival in Lagos, this interest has reached new heights. The film is the second feature written and directed by Obasi who won AFRIFF “Best Nigerian Film” the year before. From what can be seen, this film is just as good as his first “Ojuju” for which he won the AFRIFF award. The venue of the screening at the Palms Lekki was packed to capacity, prompting the writer/director “filmpreneur” to later take to his Instagram account thanking his fans for the support. Once again, the success of this film once again demonstrates the importance of quality filmmaking which is one thing AFRIFF set out to celebrate. Anyway, O-Town is a gangster thriller and it stars the likes of Paul Utomi, Kalu Ikeagwu and Ifu Ennada.
As the festival continues to unfold, I will ensure to keep an update in order to see which of the entries wins the coveted best film. For the meantime however, several activities are taking place as put together by the organizers of AFRIFF, including the Bank of Industry sponsored interaction and networking day which held on November 10th and attended by top Nollywood personalities such as Rita Dominic who posted a picture of the event on social media. Topic discussed was “Nolly Fund”, focusing on ways to source funds for sponsoring many of Nollywood’s productions.
At the 2015 Miss Nigeria pageantry held Saturday November 7th in Lagos, Harrysong performed his hit single “reggae blue” alongside Kcee. Unfortunately, the performance was simply boring and cliché as the duo’s attempt at actual performance was characterized by uncoordinated movement around the stage and a frisky, tacky dance between Kcee and a young woman. Their vocals were off key the entire time even as there was no live band. There was no electrifying artistry, the type one would find in a Chris Brown performance for instance. This got me thinking long and hard as to why most live performances by Nigerian artists are simply basic, uninteresting and mediocre!
Now there is no doubt that the Nigerian music industry has grown and become one of the most influential in Africa and beyond as Nigerian artists constantly release quality audio-visual productions for our entertainment. Songs by singers such as MI Abaga, Waje, Tiwa Savage and Runtown (to mention a few) are top-notch in terms of quality of production and musicality. In the same vein, these musicians ensure that their music videos are in par with global standards. But then when it comes to stage performances, their outputs are usually poor. Interestingly though, many music lovers in Nigeria seem unperturbed by this phenomenon. Yet I [just] cannot figure out why anybody should buy a ticket to watch a favourite singer’s performance only to get treated to a completely boring show. In 2015 when music artists around the world spend days rehearsing theatrical, visually-captivating dramatics for their shows/concerts, Nigerian singers fail to at least give their audiences live bands. And yet said audiences attend these shows and seem satisfied by it. Who then is to blame for this lack of artistic standard; the singers or the music lovers?
To answer the above question, permit a little bit of digression. Major international artists have been criticized severally for their stage performances especially when it is large scale like the Super Bowl and the Grammies. Last year, Katie Perry was the subject of ridicule by some who thought her elabourate Super Bowl performance was trashy compared to Beyoncé’s giving the year before. And speaking of Beyoncé, most fans were disappointed over her most recent performance at the Global Citizens’ concert in New York. This is despite all the dancing, drama and actual singing she put out. But then this is what the case should be; music artists should be mandated by their fans to always bring out their best while performing live shows. Music lovers abroad are known for this as they practically determine a lot of things singers do on stage. For instance, it is in anticipation of what audiences would like to see on stages that artists go out of their ways to recruit stage directors and creative artists who will plan out the moves, the choreography and the actual crazy fun that makes for good shows. One of Beyoncé’s many Grammy performances once saw the artist marching up an isle towards the expansive stage with an entire army all of whom were dressed in full military uniforms. She would later dance, interact with the crowd and run the breath of the auditorium while belting out lyrics in her amazing, crystal-clear manner. Indeed, Stage performance is beyond standing with a microphone and jumping up and down a stage. Jumping around the stage and demonstrating swags is definitely good, but certainly not all there is to it.
My point therefore is that both the artists and the audiences are to blame for the poor stage performances we experience in Nigeria. And I think [perhaps] the main reason behind this is the fact that most of us have yet to realize the immense importance of stage performances. How then do you explain artist’ lack of preparedness, the poor sound quality, the typical absence of live bands and hence the boring shows we usually always have in Nigeria? Most of these performances are so random and unplanned so much so Iyanya was performing at his all white birthday concert and his friends were walking about the stage as though it was a joke! All this happened while the fans merely sat back and watched, seemingly indifferent. Why on earth would I pay money to watch such a show? In actual fact I cannot seem to understand the phenomenon. This is 2015 for weeping out loud and entertainment should be refreshing. Why then on earth are some people especially the audiences so nonchalant over what they get in return for their money?
Once again let me reiterate the crux of this piece in order to avoid misunderstanding. Nigerian musicians are generally doing great jobs in the studios. However, there is need to replicate said excellence on stage as that is the only means they will get to that point in their careers when they rent out stadia as the likes of Sam Smith and Taylor Swift do. And perhaps it belies the Nigerian music lovers to demand such excellence. Now I don’t know the best way this could actualized, yet social media rants have proven very useful in many situations. And speaking of social media rants and how it shapes artists’ leaning towards the fans’ wants, Lady Gaga’s fans (for instance) recently went on rampage on her Instagram account over the many jazz shows she has been performing of late. This happened following a picture the singer posted on the social media platform, with many followers complaining that she was becoming too jazzy for comfort. One particular fan’s comment caught my interest and it read thus:
I was on stage with her in Zurich but please please Gaga stop this jazz sh*t; your fame isn’t the same anymore… We want f**king Judas!! We want Aphrodite!! And f**king shit… please give us back Donatella… I’m a little monster and I f**king tattooed your name. So go back and f**king be my mother!
Now that is how to speak out as a fan. And Nigerian music lovers need to speak out this way while demanding excellent stage performances from our artists as it is imperative towards ensuring continued growth in the industry.
The keeping up with the Kardashians’ star and fashion model posted a picture on her Instagram page which shows her looking nerdy in a beautiful way. The picture, according to the model,is part of an effort aimed at eradicating breast cancer in the world. In her exact words:
“More tea. @livelokai and @susangkomen are helping to save lives and end breast cancer by empowering others and investing in science to find cures. By purchasing a bracelet, you’re supporting breast cancer research. #livelokai #lokaihero”
Meanwhile, in another development another keeping up with the Kardashian star Khloe Kardashian is currently in a bad state following the discovery of her ex. husband in an unresponsive mode due to drug overdose. According to BET online, the star and her mother Kris flew to Las Vegas to be at Odom’s side at the hospital. He is said to be in a seriously bad condition. Recall that Odom’s close friend Jamie Sangouthai died earlier this year reportedly due to drug related illness, thus raising concerns as to how this development will end.
GENEVIEVE NNAJI CONTINUES TO PROMOTE HER LATEST MOVIE MAGIC
As we may already know, Nigerian actress Genevieve Nnaji has just undertaken her first ever production project. And from what can be seen from the flicks released of the project, it promises to be a good one. The film is called Road to Yesterday and it tells the story of a couple struggling to work out the differences in their relationship. Ever since she disclosed the existence of this project, the actress has continued to promote the project through several means. According to Bella Naija, she visited several radio stations in Lagos to discuss the film alongside the director of the film Ishaya Bako.