As soon as nominations for the Oscar Awards were announced not a few predicted that The Avatar, the all-time highest selling box office hit movie would sweep all the awards. They had many reasons to think so. Avatar is the movie that has made over $2 billion from the cinemas, an all-time record. Also the director has a reputation like our own Tunde Kelani or Tade Ogidan. He directed the monster hit movie Titanic which held the highest selling record before Avatar. Everybody seems to love Avatar. Even critics were unanimous in their approval of the movie. Besides, the 3D technology used in producing it is an innovation at its best. But what happened penultimate Sunday night took many by surprise . Another movie, The Hurt Locker which barely made $15 million at the box office beat Avatar, six awards to three. The Hurt Locker won Best Director, Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Film Editing compared to Avatar’s Best Visual Effect, Best Art Director and Best Cinematography. If you, look at it critically, it seems the best only went home with second-grade awards. Avatar’s loss dominated news the following day and nobody reported that the organizers must have done magomago. That would not have happened in Nigeria . In Nigeria we always take the most popular film to be the best. I realized that there are lots of lessons we all need to learn from the awards that is reputed to be the biggest movie awards in the world. We have to learn to accept the fact that film awards are not popularity contests. Should something like what happened that Sunday happen here, people would have gone to the press and lambasted the organizers. P-Square, the popular musical band is yet to forgive Hip Hop World Awards organizers for over-looking them two years ago. Jeta Amata’s supporters complained bitterly that Amazing Grace, the movie he purportedly shot on 35mm did not win the popular award about three years ago at the Africa Movie Academy Awards (AMAA). Our filmmakers are still crying wolf that movies from outside the country swept the awards last year at the AMAA. As a result many have vowed to gang-up against the awards and render it colourless. I’ve heard complaints like “the movies (that won) are crappy. Even if they are better why couldn’t AMAA give it to Nigerian movies as a way of supporting the industry”. I didn’t know that AMAA is now a family affair and winners should be determined on the basis of the producer’s country. There’s more to the awards . Judges look beyond popularity or fine faces. The most popular does not equal the best movie. Another lesson from the Oscar Awards is that of the stars. A man who claims to be responsible for the publicity for AMAA once argued with me that the awards ceremony could be done without the stars. I laughed myself to stupor because I’ve never seen an Oscars without the stars. Every star that is worth his salt was at the Oscars Awards, including the very old to the very young. How can a movie award be done without the stars. It would be preposterous. The stars make us look forward to the Oscars Awards. We want to read their red carpet interviews, see what they wear, look at their dates, hug them if possible and take a look into their minds on the stage. A film award without the stars is like a sea without fish. AMAA and other awards need to learn the art of marketing to their constituencies. The organizers should bridge the gap and make the ceremony a gathering of stars just as we saw at Oscars. The award ceremony was so organized that one wondered if the organizers have one head. One practically had to struggle to gain entrance into venues of most awards ceremonies I’ve been to except Hip Hop World Awards (God bless the organizers). Even with a valid invitation one would almost be rendered an invalid at the entrance by unfriendly bouncers at most award ceremonies. Nobody asked for monetary reward after the Oscars. Nobody cared about how much the organizers made. What the hell is an award recipient’s business with how much a corporate body gives award organizers? You will hear things like “Bayelsa State government gave them lots of money why can’t they give us some?” Anybody who wants money should go and organize an “awards” too if it is that profitable. Almost everybody that is anybody in journalism and the movies was involved with the Oscars. Reporters from the fashion industry, entertainment, information technology and the likes were at The Oscars. Even the voting process involved practically everybody that had something to do with film making. Our awards should be all inclusive. Involvement sometimes breeds commitment. Who says actors and actresses cannot each cast votes for the best actor or best film category? As long as people see us as living on our island, they tend to think of us as too proud. Again, there is need for us to support our own awards. Americans have a way of making their heroes somebody while we have a way of making nobody out of our heroes. If we collectively contribute our quota without looking at the immediate gains AMAA or HHWA will become institutions like The Oscars of this world.
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