In recent times the number of African films screened worldwide and included in international competitions has increased immensely and African filmmakers have also been receiving more commendation globally. This quantum leap and exposure can be credited to Peace Anyiam Osigwe, the organiser of the African Movie Academy Awards (AMAA).
Who is Peace?
This woman who wields a lot of power and authority in the film industry had just flown into Nigeria after delivering a lecture in Harvard University, on the future of African cinema and was preparing for the launch of yet another project, a Film Fund, when we had our tête à tête in her GRA home. Shedding light on the Film Fund she said, "We are creating this fund to finance film production and distribution in Africa."
Peace's world now revolves around the media and film industry but before her foray into the movie industry, she had tried her hands at a number of other things. "I studied law and Political Science at the Oxford Brookes University. After my graduation, I worked for about four years as Finance Services Manager/ Computer Network Supervisor in Sun, Sage and Net Novell. I also did some work as an administrator for London Borough of Barnet in their skills acquisition department."
She moved back to Nigeria from England in the 1990's and announced her presence as a talk-show host. Soon after, she set up the Africa Film Academy (AFA) which organises the successful AMA Awards, that offers training and funds to different guilds in Nollywood. In addition to that, Ms Anyiam-Osigwe partners with other organisations to organise Film Festivals.
All about AMAA
AMAA, the African equivalent of the Oscars debuted in 2004 in Lagos but later held its subsequent editions in Bayelsa. "I started AMAA primarily to give Africa a voice and today it is being acknowledged all over the world." Through this medium more films have been showcased at Film Festivals worldwide and awardees have broken into international terrains." Sharing some of the snags she encountered while organising the ceremony, she says "Financing was a challenge as funds from the sponsors came in at the last minute but we have put measures in place to ensure this does not occur next year, we are also working on increasing the participation of more African filmmakers ."
Behind the Spotlight
Ms Anyiam Osigwe who is the creative director of the forthcoming Africa International Film Festival (AFRIFF), has received quite a number of awards for her novel ideas. "The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) honoured me with the African Vision Award for Innovative Initiative at the 60th edition of Cannes Film Festival in France, I was also the head of jury for short films in the 2007 edition of the Berlin Film Festival to mention a few."
In the spirit of giving this stalwart due credit, Dorothy Wenner a film maker based in Berlin produced a documentary, Peace Mission, which is themed around Peace Anyiam-Osigwe. "The filming of the documentary was not very comfortable because she spent a number of days going everywhere with me, but I like that it was shown in several festivals because it has helped to create awareness about what we do."
When she's not working, which is quite rare these days with the preparation of the Africa International Film Festival, she tries to find time to relax. She adds, "I love the beach, especially the one in Cape Town. I also love Greece and Jamaica." For a woman whose career is in the media world, Ms Anyiam-Osigwe does her best to stay away from the spotlight as well as ignore the slanderous things that are written about her in the media. She tells me that not too long ago, she went on a spiritual journey where she was Buddhist, after she went to Egypt, she was told to choose between Jesus and Buddhist and follow which was easier, she chose Jesus.
What's next for Peace?
Behind this talented artistic entrepreneur is a Poet and writer. Ms Anyiam-Osigwe has published three anthologies and she's co-writing a movie script on four women, "I just want to use it to express myself." She adds that she's taking her time because she's exploring a new side. "I grew up with seven brothers and that has made me a tomboy but with this script I'm looking at things totally from the female perspective."
She has also produced a number of works, Hidden Paradise of Nigeria, including the latest GRA Women "This soap opera is an idea I have had for a while, but decided to produce after I got the right team to work with. A lot of families who live in the GRA have old family connections; as such you see that everyone is connected to the other in one way or the other. Those old family connections and things that happen in GRA are some of the things I want to showcase with this family drama."
Reminiscing about her childhood, Ms Anyiam-Osigwe adds "Growing up was fun, my brothers influenced me a lot and taught me different things. One taught me how to change car tyres, another taught me how to defend myself, another taught me how to ride a bicycle, they all wanted me to be self sufficient and it has paid off.
Remembering her late dad, she says "he still is my best friend, I was so free with him, I even told him about my boyfriend. And I still take decisions based on the principles he instilled in me." Other future projects for Ms Anyiam-Osigwe include a biography about her mother.